Click on the icon for Lesson 2 in Adobe Acrobat Format (434K). Includes Activity Pages 2A-C.
PROMOTING THE CANDIDATE
- Identify the role of political parties in presidential elections.
- Interpret objects from presidential campaigns.
Social studies, language arts
1. Ask your students to review what they learned by reading the portions
of the Constitution
included in Activity Page 1A. Is there any mention of the presidential campaign
process? Does the Constitution say anything about political parties? Using
the Introduction as a guide, tell your students that the writers of the
Constitution did not anticipate the scope of national political parties
and would not have imagined the large expense and permanent organization
necessary to run a modern presidential campaign. Be sure to emphasize that
ever since political parties were formed, they have profoundly shaped the
way Americans elect their president. (You may wish to remind them of party-driven
institutions such as conventions and primaries.)
2. Give each student a copy of Activity Pages 2A-C. Tell your students
that they will be examining objects at the Smithsonian
Institution that originally came from presidential campaigns of the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Stress that political parties created
these objects to provide simple and direct reasons for voters to consider
their candidates' character and personal qualifications.
3. Direct your students to Object 1 but do not tell them what it
is an 1840 campaign ribbon for Whig candidate William Henry Harrison. Ask
them to look carefully at the object, examining both the text and pictures.
Is it clear who the candidate is? What qualities make this candidate trustworthy
enough to be president? (Some students might find the nineteenth-century
language difficult to understand and may need extra coaching.) Answers may
vary, but students will likely conclude that voters were encouraged to elect
Harrison because he was, like George Washington, a military hero and farmer
and so presumably well prepared for the presidency.
4. Repeat the inquiry process outlined in lesson step 3 for the remaining
objects on Activity Pages 2A-C. (Be sure to consult the key to campaign
objects and possible answers provided in the Introduction and this lesson
plan.) Have students write their answers in the spaces provided on the Activity
5. Conclude the activity by asking your students what these campaign
objects might indicate about the qualities American voters seek in their
president. Students will probably conclude that voters seem to want proven
leaders who can keep the nation at peace and economically strong.