Archive | June, 2014
June 30, 2014

William Harrison

Our 9th President: 1841-1841


 

Just the Facts:

  •  William Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech in history (he talked over 1 1/2 hours).
  •  He also had the shortest presidential term in history – only 32 days.
  •  His nickname was “Ol Tippecanoe.”
  •  His grandson, Benjamin, became the 23rd president.
  •  Harrison allowed his pet goats and cows to graze on the While House lawn.
  •  He was the first president to have his picture taken while in office.

His Life:  

William Harrison grew up in Virginia.  His father was a wealthy plantation owner and signed the Declaration of Independence, as well as being governor of Virginia.  William joined the army after his father died and spent most of his time on the frontier.  He worked his way up, until he became governor of the Indiana Territory.  He held that position for 12 years.  He became famous for his military victories over the Native Americans, including the Battle of Tippecanoe River.

 

Harrison used his military experience to advance his career, and eventually served in the Ohio senate and represented Ohio in Congress.

 

His Presidency:  

Harrison tried to convince the American public that he was an ordinary person like them by saying that he was born in a log cabin.  It was technically true, but only because his family was staying in the cabin while their mansion was being built!  He wanted to disguise his family’s wealth and portray himself as a frontiersman.   He was thrifty – he walked to the market every morning himself with a basket on his arm.

 

William Harrison was 68 years old when he became President (the second oldest ever, after Ronald Reagan).  His inauguration took place on a cold and rainy day.  Harrison gave his famously long inauguration speech without a hat or coat, and caught a chill.  Eventually, that chill evolved into pneumonia and he died 32 days later.

 

It was because of the confusion after Harrison’s death that the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was passed.  People realized that it needs to be clear what steps should be taken if a president dies while in office.

 

His Family: 

William married Anna when he was 22 years old – her father didn’t approve of the marriage so their eloped.  Anna grew up with her grandparents on Long Island after her mother passed away (her father was a soldier during the Revolutionary War).  William and Anna had 10 kids and 48 grandchildren!


Famous Quotes 

 

“The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.”

“I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.”


 Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his estate in Indiana at: http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/harrison_grouseland.html

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

 

June 26, 2014

Martin Van Buren

Our 8th President: 1837-1841


 

Just the Facts:

  •  Martin Van Buren coined the phrase “O.K.” – he was from Kinderhook, New York and his nickname was “Old Kinderhook.”
  •  English was his second language – he spoke Dutch at home.
  •  His nickname was “The Little Magician” because he was such as persuasive politician.
  •  The Sultan of Oman gave him a pair of tiger cubs, which he donated to the Washington Zoo.

 

His Life:  

Martin Van Buren grew up in a Dutch community in New York.  He was the first present to be born an American citizen (all presidents before him were born as English subjects, before America gained independence).  His parents owned a tavern, which was a popular meeting place for some of New York’s most prominent politicians.  Meeting these men helped to launch his career in politics.  He had a lot of government jobs before becoming president – governor of New York, secretary of state under Andrew Jackson, and vice-president for Andrew Jackson.

 

His Presidency:  

Martin Van Buren was president during the first major economic crisis in America – it was known as the Panic of 1837.  He was blamed for the problem, even though he was president for less than 2 months when the stock market crashed.  People lost their savings, lost their jobs and some didn’t have enough money to take care of their families.  President Van Buren spent the rest of his term trying to turn things around.  One of his ideas was for the government to have its own bank, rather than just relying on private banks.

 

While he was president, Texas won its independence from Mexico and applied for statehood.  Van Buren didn’t admit Texas into the Union, because it would upset the balance between free and slave states.  The “Trail of Tears” took place during his presidency, which was the mass relocation of Native Americans.  He ran for re-election and lost.

 

His Family: 

Martin married his childhood sweetheart, Hannah.  They had five kids (but only four survived – Abraham, John, Martin Jr, and Smith Thompson).  Unfortunately, she died from tuberculosis when she was 35 years old.  Martin never remarried.  His daughter-in-law, Anna, acted as the First Lady.  She had the first babies born in the White House – she had twins XXX.  After Van Buren lost re-election, he remained very involved in politics.  He even traveled across the country making speeches against slavery.  He died at his estate in New York, called Lindenwald, in 1862.


Famous Quotes 

 

“The people in our system, like the king in a monarchy, never dies.”

“The less government interferes with private pursuits, the better for general prosperity.”


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his estate, in Kinderhook, New York at: http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/van_buren_lindenwald.html

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

June 25, 2014

Andrew Jackson

 

Our 7th President: 1829-1837


 

Just the Facts:

  •  Andrew Jackson was a war hero
  •  He was the first “common man” to become president.
  •  His nickname is “Old Hickory,” because he was so tough on the battlefield.
  •  Some called him “King Andrew” because of his view on the Presidency.
  •  He installed running water and bathrooms in the White House.
  •  One of his favorite foods was hickory soup.

His Life:  

Andrew Jackson was born in a log cabin – literally.  His parents emigrated from Ireland and settled on the “frontier” in South Carolina.  He and his two brothers all fought in the revolutionary war (Andrew was only 13 when he enlisted). Andrew was captured by the British and his two brothers died.  He got the famous scar down his face when he was a prisoner and refused a order from a British officer.

 

Since both of his parents died when he was a child, he was on his own after the war was over. He decided to head to Tennessee to start a new life.  He studied law and became a lawyer.  Eventually, he bought a plantation and entered politics. He was Tennessee’s first senator!  But, he was best known as a military general, leading the Tennessee militia in many battles during the War of 1812.   People gave him the nickname “old hickory” because he was as strong and tough as they come.

 

He married Rachel when he was 24, who thought she was divorced from her first husband.  But apparently the paperwork wasn’t complete.  It caused quite a scandal!  He even fought another man in a duel because of it.

 

His Presidency:  

He beat john Quincy Adams to become our 7th president (after losing 4 years before). He was the first president that was a “man of the people,” – he grew up poor, the son of immigrant parents.  Even though he had become quite wealthy by the time he was elected, he never forgot his humble beginnings.  Unfortunately, Rachel died just as he assumed office, so his niece and daughter in law performed the duties of First Lady while he was president.  He was known for hosting elaborate dinner parties at the White House.

 

Andrew Jackson had a famous temper, but was a popular president.  He tried to get rid of our national bank, because he thought it favored the wealthy while neglecting the common people.  He believed in a strong central government (rather than strong state governments) and a strong Presidency.  He expanded the President’s powers – like the ability to hire and fire cabinet members (before him, cabinet members served for the President’s term).  He also believed in westward expansion and settlement (putting him at odds with the Native Americans). Two states entered the Union while Jackson was president – Arkansas and Michigan.

 

His Family: 

He escaped death a few times – first as a revolutionary war prisoner, second while fighting a duel (a bullet remained in his body for the rest of his life), and lastly an assassination attempt.  he was in over 10 fights in his life – probably because of his temper. He retired to his plantation, the hermitage, after his presidency.   You probably have a picture of Andrew Jackson in your house (check your dad’s wallet).


Famous Quotes 

“Any man worth his salt will sick up for what is right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.”

“The people are the government, administering it by their agents; they are the government, the sovereign power.”

 


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his home, the Hermitage at http://www.thehermitage.com

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

June 24, 2014

John Quincy Adams

Our 6th president: 1825-1829


 

Just the Facts:

  •  John Quincy Adams was the son of our second President, John Adams
  •  He was the only president to marry a foreigner – his wife Louisa was English.
  •  He was the first President to have his photograph taken.
  •  His nickname was “Old Man Eloquent”
  •  He served under all 5 presidents before him.
  •  He didn’t like being president and said it was “the four most miserable years of my life.”
  •  He liked to play pool and write poetry.
  •  He had a pet alligator, which was given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette.

 

His Life:  

John Quincy Adams was the son of our second president, John Adams.  He grew up on the family farm in Braintree, Massachusetts (just south of Boston).  JQA (as he referred to himself) learned a lot from his father – he was his fathers secretary at age 11, while they lived in Europe.  He went on to become a diplomat himself, representing America in the Netherlands, Prussia (now Germany), England, and Russia.  He was enormously well-respected for his diplomacy work.

 

JQA also served as Secretary of State for James Monroe – some people think he’s the greatest Secretary of State that America has ever had.  He negotiated the purchase of Florida from Spain and actually wrote some of the famous Monroe Doctrine.

 

His Presidency:  

The election of 1824 was hotly contested.  John Quincy Adams became president even though he didn’t have the most votes (Andrew Jackson actually won more votes than Adams). Since no candidate won at least 50% of the votes, the House of Representatives made the decision, and the House chose Adams.  After he won, Adams appointed Henry Clay (Speaker of the House) to the position of Secretary of State – people called it the “Corrupt Bargain.”

 

JQA wasn’t a particularly popular president – many thought he was a little cranky.  People liked his wife, Louisa, however – she was kind and threw great parties.  In fact, he didn’t really like being President and many of his initiatives failed.  Adams tried to create a national system for infrastructure such as roads and canals, a national university and bank, but was a little ahead of his time.  He didn’t win re-election – Andrew Jackson finally beat him.  Adams was more successful as a representative in Congress than a president – he represented Massachusetts in the House of Representatives for 17 years.

 

His Family: 

JQA met his wife, Louisa, while in England.  They got married in England while he was living there as the American ambassador.  They had three children (she was pregnant 19 times!) – one of their sons was named “George Washington.”   Louisa loved to sing and play the harp.  She also raised silkworms – she used their silk for her gowns!  JQA loved to garden, play pool and write poetry.  He was also a big swimmer – he swam nearly every day in the Potomac River at 5 am (he swam naked!).  JQA could swim over an hour without stopping for a rest.

JQA never officially retired – he died while serving in the House of Representatives.  In fact, he collapsed on the floor of the House and passed away in a cloak room within the Capitol building.  Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln served as a pallbearer at JQA’s funeral.


Famous Quotes:

“If you actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his birthplace and farm, now the Adams National Historic Park at http://www.nps.gov/adam/index.htm

Learn about plans for an Adams Memorial in Washington DC at http://adamsmemorial.org

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

June 23, 2014

James Monroe

Our 5th President: 1817-1825

 

Just the Facts:

  •  James Monroe was President during the “Era of Good Feelings.”
  •  His wife, Elizabeth, wasn’t very popular
  •  His daughter, Maria, was the first to be married in the White House.
  •  He was the first president to cross the Atlantic on a steamship.
  •  Monroe had a long and impressive political career.
  •  He was the last of the Revolutionary generation to be president.
  • He was the only president to have a foreign capitol named after him - Monrovia, Liberia

 

His Life:  

He grew up in Virginia on a plantation with four brothers and sisters.  His parents died when he was only 16, and James suddenly was in charge of both the farm and his family.  He fought in the Revolutionary War and served under George Washington – he was with Washington during the famous crossing of the Delaware River.  Monroe was shot in the War and the bullet stayed in his shoulder for the rest of his life.

Monroe dropped out of college to serve in the Revolutionary War and never went back to get his degree.  Instead, he decided to study law in Thomas Jefferson’s office.  He had an impressive career of public service before becoming president – he was the minister to France and ambassador to England.  He also helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase.  He was both the Secretary of War and Secretary of State under President Madison.   He was even the governor of Virginia a couple times!

 

His Presidency:  

The Whites House was still being repaired from the war of 1812 when he came to office.  He used that time to tour the country for 4 months – he was the first president to take his show on the road.  He also traveled to Europe in one of the worlds first steamships.   He served as president for two terms (1817-1825) – it was a happy, peaceful time in American and was named the “era of good feeling.”  He was the last of the revolutionary leaders to be elected president.

 

James Monroe was famous for the “Monroe Doctrine” – which stated that Europe should stay out of the Western Hemisphere  (America is in charge over here – leave us alone).  He was concerned that Spain would try to regain its colonies in South America and He purchased Florida from Spain.

 

Another important event during his presidency was tremendous growth – five states were admitted to the union – Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri. This upset the delicate balance in the country regarding the issue of slavery – would slavery be allowed or banned in these new states?  The Missouri Compromise (1829) banned slavery in all new states that were north of Missouri (like Minnesota).

 

His Family: 

Monroe married Elizabeth when she was only 17 years old, and they spent the early part of their marriage in Europe.  Some Americans thought she was a little snooty and called her “Queen Elizabeth” (which she didn’t like one bit).  The French, however, called her the “Beautiful American.”  They had three children.

 

James and Elizabeth retired to their plantation in Virginia.  He spent time with his daughter in New York after Elizabeth died, because he didn’t want to be at their home without her.  He died on the Fourth of July (the third president to pass on our Independence Day).


Famous Quotes:

“The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”

“Our country may be likened to a new house.  We lack many things, but possess the most precious of all – liberty!”

 


Want to learn more?

Take a tour of his home in Virginia, Ash Lawn Highland, at http://ashlawnhighland.org

Visit the Monroe museum and library in Fredricksburg, Virginia at http://jamesmonroemuseum.umw.edu

 

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

 

June 19, 2014

James Madison

Our 4th President: 1809-1817


 

Just the Facts:

  •  James Madison was our shortest president – 5 feet, 4 inches and under 100 pounds!
  •  Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
  •  Dolley Madison brought a new and delicious dessert into the White House – ice cream!
  •  Madison used a pseudonym for his writing, “Publius.”
  •  He was president when Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner.”

His Life:  

James Madison grew up in Virginia.  He was the oldest of 12 children, and spent much of his childhood inside reading because he was frequently sick.  He went to Princeton College and graduated in record time.  He planned to pursue a career in law, but the Revolutionary War got in the way.  James was a particularly gifted linguist – he could read about 6 different languages.

 

His Presidency:  

James Madison was one of our greatest minds – he helped to write both the Constitution and Bill of Rights (the first amendments that described our rights as citizens).  Madison served as Secretary of State, then as President for two terms.

 

He led the country through the War of 1812.  For a few years before the War, both the French and English harassed American trading ships at sea – they would take sailors captive and seize the goods aboard.  Finally, Madison gave into the pressure and declared war.

 

President Madison ordered a lot of expensive items from France for the “President’s Mansion” – 93 crates filled with silverware, china, chandeliers, clocks, mirrors, vases, rugs, drapes and furniture.  He had to evacuate the Mansion when British soldiers stormed into Washington DC and set it on fire.  Luckily, Dolley managed to save the famous portrait of George Washington and the Declaration of Independence.  After America won the War of 1812, Madison ordered the mansion to be painted white as part of the repairs.  It has been called the White House ever since!

 

His Family: 

James Madison married Dolley when he was 43 years old – she was 17 years younger than he.  Dolley had a son from her first marriage (her husband died) – John.  James and Dolley never had any children of their own, but James raised John as his own.  Dolley was a beloved first lady and was known for her charm and intelligence.  She hosted lavish parties and helped to define the role of “First Lady.”

 

James and Dolley lived on the family estate in Virginia, which was called Montpelier, after his presidency was over.  He was the last of the founding fathers, passing away at age 85 (in 1836, 20 years after his presidency was over).  His famous last words were, “I always talk better laying down.”


Famous Quotes 

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

“We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.”

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.”

“The essence of government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”

“Philosophy is common sense with big words.”


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his home, Montpelier, at http://www.montpelier.org

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

 

June 18, 2014

Thomas Jefferson

Our 3rd President: 1801-1809

Just the Facts

  •  Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.
  •  He practiced his violin 3 hours per day.
  • His favorite food was peas.
  •  He was very informal and wore casual clothes (even slippers sometimes).
  •  At times, he answered the door at the President’s  Mansion himself.
  •  His nickname is “Father of the Declaration of Independence”
  •  He was a “Man of Enlightenment” – accomplished in a wide variety of things.
  •  His tombstone did not mention his role as president (he wrote it himself).
  •  The government bought his personal library (over 6,000 books) – it was the start of the Library of Congress.

 

His Life:  

Thomas Jefferson grew up on a large plantation in Virginia.  He spent his childhood reading, exploring nature and playing the violin.  Thomas Jefferson was 11 when his father died.  He inherited the family’s estate and took charge when he was 21 years old.  He went to college at William and Mary, studying law.  He was a farmer, lawyer and politician.  He served in the Virginia legislature and represented Virginia in the Continental Congress.  He is most famous for writing the Declaration of Independence (along with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin) – the famous document was actually handwritten by Jefferson.

 

Jefferson was one of our smartest presidents and was interested in everything – science, music, art, architecture, language, books, law, geography, botany, philosophy, farming, and history.  In fact, he even designed his own house – and called it Monticello.  He collected prehistoric bones and invented the folding ladder.  He also founded the University of Virginia and designed all it buildings.

 

His Presidency:  

Thomas Jefferson was the third president and served for 2 terms (8 years). Before that, he was Vice President under John Adams and Secretary of State under George Washington.  During his presidency, the famous Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison, was handed down – it gave the Supreme Court the power to decide whether laws enacted by Congress violate the Constitution.  It is a pivotal part of our checks and balances system.

 

His most famous accomplishment as President was the Louisiana Purchase – he bought land west of the Mississippi River from France and nearly doubled the size of our country.  He bought the land without really knowing what it was like.  So, he asked Lewis and Clark to explore the land and report back (the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition).

 

Jefferson believed in a small federal government.  He wanted states to have as much power as possible and he worked to limit the size and budget of the federal government.  That made him popular – the American people have never liked taxes!

 

His Family: 

Thomas Jefferson married Martha when he was AGE.  They had two daughters, Martha and Mary.  After 10 happy years of marriage, his wife died (she was only 33 years old) and Jefferson never remarried.  His oldest daughter, Patsy, performed many duties of first lady (that is, when she wasn’t busy with her own family of 10 kids).


 Famous Quotes 

 

“Honest is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

“Educate and reform the whole mass of the people… they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his home, Monticello at http://www.monticello.org

Learn about the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC at http://www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

June 17, 2014

John Adams

Our 2nd President: 1797-1801

 

Just the Facts:

John Adams was our second president and he served for one term.

He was the first president to live in the White House (at the time it was called the Presidential Mansion)

Before being President, he successfully defended the British soldiers who were accused of the “Boston Massacre.”

His nickname was “Atlas of Independence”

His son, John Quincy Adams, was the 6th president of the US.


 

Life:

John Adams grew up on a farm just south of Boston, Massachusetts (he was born October 30, 1735).  He was brilliant and went to Harvard College, then decided to be a lawyer.   While John worked in Boston as a lawyer, he began to think about how they were treated by the British.  He was a philosopher as much as a statesman – he had many thoughts on how best to structure a government.  John thought the British treated people unfairly and that America should be independent.

 

He became a delegate to the Continental Congress, then helped write the Declaration of Independence.  During the Revolutionary War, he went to Europe to convince other countries to help America fight the British.  John helped to end the war by negotiating the Treaty of Paris.  He came home when he was elected as America’s first vice president.  He didn’t like the job at all, and thought there wasn’t must for him to do.

 

Presidency:

John Adams was one of the Founding Fathers of our country.  He became our second president when he ran against his friend, Thomas Jefferson, and won.  Jefferson served as his vice president – back then, the presidential candidate who received the second most votes became Vice-President.

 

John Adam’s presidency with filled with foreign affairs – trade policies and relationships with other countries.  During his years as President, Adams helped America stay out of wars with both France and England.  He knew that our army and navy was weak and did everything possible to avoid declaring war.  Adams ran for a second term but lost – Thomas Jefferson finally beat him.  And, John Adams was a sore loser – he left town before Jefferson’s inauguration.

 

Family: 

John married Abigail and had 5 kids.  He and Abigail spent more time apart than in the same city – their letters to each other are some of the most famous from the Revolutionary War period.  Abigail was smart and well educated, and believed in women’s rights.  They had a unique relationship for the time – John sought Abigail’s advice and respected her opinion.  Together, they created the Adams political dynasty – their children and grandchildren went on to be politicians, diplomats, and historians.  John lived until he was 90 – he died on the same day as Thomas Jefferson (July 4, 1826).


 

Famous Quotes 

 

“Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

“The happiness of society is the end of government.”

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge.  Let us dare to read, think, speak and write.”

“A government of laws, not of men.”

 


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his birthplace and farm, now the Adams National Historic Park at http://www.nps.gov/adam/index.htm

Learn about plans for an Adams Memorial in Washington DC at http://adamsmemorial.org

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

 

June 16, 2014

George Washington

 

Our 1st President – 1789-1797

 

Just the Facts:

 He was the only president elected by every state (it was unanimous)
He was inaugurated in 2 cities – New York and Philadelphia
He decided to move the capitol to Washington DC
He was 6 feet tall
He had fake teeth made from elephant tusk (ivory)
He raised dogs and treated them like members of the family
He liked to eat peanut soup, mashed sweet potatoes with coconut, and beans with mushrooms
He loved to dance – his favorite was the minuet.
The cherry tree story is a myth (it didn’t happen).
He is one of our most beloved presidents.  Places all over the country have been named in his honor, including:

    • our capitol (Washington DC)
    • 1 state
    • 4 bridges
    • 5 mountains
    • over 10 colleges or universities
    • over 10 parks
    • over 30 cities or towns
    • over 30 counties or parishes

His Life:

George was born on February 22, 1732 and grew up on a tobacco farm in Virginia.  George’s father died when he was eleven years old and he didn’t get along with his mother.  Luckily, George’s older half-brother, Lawrence, took good care of George and taught him reading, math and how to be a gentleman.  When George was 16, he worked as a surveyor and traveled throughout western Virginia (he measured land).

 

George became owner of Mount Vernon when Lawrence died.  At 20 years old, he was suddenly in charge of one of Virginia’s biggest estates. Before long, he was elected to the Virginian legislature.  Soon George and other landowners became upset about how they were treated by the British.  They asked the King of England for changes, but he refused.

 

Before long, the colonists decided to fight for their rights and the Revolutionary War began.  George led the Continental Army – he was Commander-in-Chief for 6 years.  After America won the war, George was elected as the first president of the United States.

 

His Presidency:

George Washington was worried about being our first president – he even wrote “I greatly fear that my countrymen will expect too much from me.”  Since Washington was the first president, he had no example to follow – he made the rules for our presidency.  For example, he decided that a president should only serve for two terms because he didn’t want a president to become to powerful (8 years was enough!).

 

Washington also helped to create our federal government – he established the tradition of creating a cabinet of advisors that helped him make decisions. In addition, he created the judicial branch of our government – our courts.  He also decided to move the capital to Washington DC (after New York, then Philadelphia).  Finally, the Bills of Rights was approved during Washington’s presidency.

 

His Family: 

When he was 27, George married Martha Dandridge Custis. They had no children of their own but raised Martha’s two kids from a previous marriage – John and Patsy.  George adored Martha’s kids and was an indulgent stepfather.  Unfortunately, Patsy died when she was 16 from epilepsy, and John died when he visited an army camp during the Revolutionary War (he was 20).

 

Martha couldn’t get to New York in time for George’s first inauguration.  She was in Philadelphia for his second inauguration, however.  George and Martha retired to Mount Vernon after his presidency.  He lived only 2 years after his term ended.  He became ill after inspecting his property for hours in the rain and died from a throat infection at age 67.


Famous Quotes 

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”


 

Want to learn more?

Take a virtual tour of his home, Mount Vernon at http://www.mountvernon.org

Learn about his new Presidential Library, which is located at Mount Vernon.

Learn about the Washington Monument in Washington DC at http://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

Learn more at one of these websites:

http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/kids/presidents/

http://www.usa4kids.com/presidents/Presidents.html

https://kids.usa.gov/government/presidents/index.shtml

June 9, 2014

The Countdown has Begun

We are back for another summer tour!  This summer we are tackling the American presidents – all 44 of them.  That is 4 presidents per week, starting June 16 until August 28.  Do-able, you ask?  Absolutely.

 

How did we chose the presidents? Well, the girls and I were bantering some ideas around and initially settled on famous American artists.    Then my youngest decided she wanted to write a book about the presidents – I thought that was a fantastic idea and helped her research George Washington.  After we finished President #1, she said “I know Mommy, you can do the presidents as our summer project.”  Translation – “why don’t you do all the work, Mommy.”  She played it so well, it was nearly impossible to say “no”!  American artists will have to wait.  So, here we are…

 

America has an interesting collection of presidents.  Many presidents have either been lawyers or military heroes.  But, did you know that we have also had a teacher, writer, tailor, and journalist run our country?  Some presidents were born in log cabins (8 to be exact), while others were born in mansions.  Some came from famous political families – Roosevelt, Kennedy, Adams and Bush.  Others were merely in the right place at the right time.  But they all, in their own way, tried to make America a better place.

 

Join us as we learn a little bit about our presidents.  Who knows, you may even find out who kept a pet raccoon in the White House!