Rating the Presidents

Social Studies

Students create a rating system for evaluating nineteenth-century Presidents based on important issues of the times.

What You Need

  • Reference materials on Presidents and issues of the nineteenth century
  • Poster board
  • Felt-tip markers

What to Do

  1. On the chalkboard, list the Presidents of the nineteenth century up to 1865. Have students use an almanac or other reference sources to locate the name of each President's party.

  2. Explain that the political parties took different positions on important social issues of the time. Have students work in teams to list what those issues were. Possibilities would include the abolition of slavery, women's civil liberties, western expansion, war with Mexico, the treatment of Native Americans, voters' rights, and industrialization.

  3. Tell students that they are going to rate each President on the issues they listed. Have each team choose one president and research his position on the important issues. Ask them to discuss and evaluate those positions, using their own judgment. Then have them create a poster with a graphic organizer (such as a chart or graph) that shows how they rate that President's administration.

  4. Have each team present its poster and explain how the group came up with the evaluation. Each team should be prepared to explain its thinking.

Teaching Options

  • You might wish to choose Presidents over a shorter span of time. Also, you might have two teams work separately to evaluate a President, then have them compare their conclusions.
  • Some students within each team might research a President's opponents to learn what issues they brought up during a campaign. They could then write a persuasive argument for electing the candidate whose views were closest to their own.
  • If there are differences of opinion among team members, have those students who differ prepare and deliver oral arguments for their positions.

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