The Presidents

Today we are starting a social studies/American history unit on the American presidents. I found a video series on the History Channel and DVRed it. The plan is to watch one video a week, then read some extra books on the presidents covered in each week’s show. The first one is Washington through Munroe.

Interesting things we’ve discovered:

Washington’s horse’s name was Nelson. Washington himself was a very good dancer and loved the arts. He even designed uniforms for the military. Important events: the Whiskey rebellion. He refused when asked to serve a third term.

John Adams, the second president, was very opinionated but very insecure. He was America’s first vice president and one of two presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson being the other). Important events: the XYZ Affair and the Alien and Sedition Acts. However, he avoided war with France via the Treaty of Mont Fontaine. He was also the father of the US Navy.

Thomas Jefferson beat Adams when the latter ran for a second term in a highly contentions election. Jefferson was not a Federalist, but a Democratic Republican. On the day of his inauguration Jefferson walked to the capital to make his speech. He was a widower with 6 children, eccentric and secretive. He kept 2 bear cubs at the White House. He was very informal, did not like to give public speeches, and preferred to work alone than in the public eye. But he was a very strong and effective leader. Important events: the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the Embargo Act of 1807.

James Madison was Jefferson’s Secretary of State. He was a Democratic-Republican, like Jefferson. He is known as the Father of the Constitution. His wife, Dolly, was a very influential First Lady. She loved oyster ice cream. Important events: the War of 1812, after the British began seizing US ships. He was the first president to ask Congress for a Declaration of War. The president’s mansion was burned in 1814 and he was the first and only president to face enemy fire. The war was ended with The Treaty of Ghent. The Star Spangled Banner was written during this war.

James Munroe was the fifth president and the last of the Revolutionary “generation”. He ran unopposed for his second term. Important events: Missouri and Maine became part of the Union, and the Missouri Compromise was signed. He also founded Monrovia in Liberia. The territory of Florida is invaded by Andrew Jackson and leads to negotiations with Spain, who cedes Florida to the US without incident. In 1823 he delivered the Munroe Doctrine, rejecting other countries attempting to colonize the American continent.

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