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The Biography of George Washington (Senior High School Reading)



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The Biography of George Washington (Senior High School Reading)
Introduction
George Washington (1732-99) was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution (1775-83). He also served two terms as the first U.S. president, from 1789 to 1797.
The son of a wealthy planter, Washington was raised in colonial Virginia. As a young man, he worked as a surveyor then fought in the French and Indian War (1754-63). During the American Revolution, he led the colonial forces to victory over the British and became a national hero. In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution. Two years later, Washington became the nation’s first president. Less than three years after leaving office, he died at his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, at age 67.
Early Years
George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, at his family’s plantation on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, in the British colony of Virginia. His parents were Augustine Washington (1694-1743) and Augustine’s second wife, Mary Ball Washington (1708-89). George, the oldest of Augustine and Mary Washington’s six children, spent much of his childhood at Ferry Farm, a plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia. After Washington’s father died when he was 11, it’s likely he helped his mother manage the plantation.
Few details about Washington’s early education are known, although children of prosperous families like his typically were taught at home by private tutors or attended private schools. It’s believed he finished his schooling at around age 15.
As a teenager, Washington, who had shown an aptitude for mathematics, became a successful surveyor. His surveying expeditions into the Virginia wilderness earned him enough money to begin acquiring land of his own.
In 1751, Washington made his only trip outside of America, when he travelled to Barbados with his older half-brother Lawrence (1718-52), who was suffering from tuberculosis and hoped the warm climate would help him recuperate. Shortly after their arrival, George contracted smallpox. He survived, although the illness left him with permanent facial scars. In 1752, Lawrence died. Washington eventually inherited Lawrence’s estate, Mount Vernon, on the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia.

An Officer and Gentleman Farmer
In December 1752, Washington, who had no previous military experience, was made a commander of the Virginia militia (volunteer army). He saw action in the French and Indian War and was eventually put in charge of all of Virginia’s militia forces. By 1759, Washington had resigned his commission as an officer and returned to Mount Vernon. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses (legislature), where he served until 1774. In January 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis (1731-1802), a wealthy widow with two children. Washington became a devoted stepfather to the children. He and Martha never had any children of their own.
In the years that followed, Washington expanded Mount Vernon from 2,000 acres into an 8,000-acre property with five farms. He grew a variety of crops, including wheat and corn, bred mules, and maintained fruit orchards and a successful fishery. He was deeply interested in farming and continually experimented with new crops and methods of land conservation.
General Washington and the American Revolution

By the late 1760s, Washington had experienced firsthand the effects of rising taxes imposed on American colonists by the British, and came to believe that it was in the best interests of the colonists to declare independence from England. Washington served as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774 in Philadelphia. By the time the Second Continental Congress convened a year later, the American Revolution had begun in earnest, and Washington was named commander in chief of the American Continental Army.


Washington proved to be a better general than military strategist. His strength lay not in his genius on the battlefield but in his ability to keep the struggling colonial army together. His troops were poorly trained and lacked food, ammunition and other supplies (soldiers sometimes even went without shoes in winter). However, Washington was able to give them the direction and motivation to keep going.
Over the course of the grueling eight-year war, the colonial forces won few battles but consistently held their own against the British. In October 1781, with the aid of the French (who allied themselves with the colonists over their rivals the British), the Continental forces were able to capture British troops under General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) in Yorktown, Virginia. This action effectively ended the American Revolution and Washington was declared a national hero.
Our Nation’s First President
In 1783, a peace treaty was signed between Great Britain and the U.S. officially ending the American Revolution. Washington, believing he had done his duty, gave up his command of the army and returned to Mount Vernon, intent on resuming his life as a gentleman farmer and family man. However, in 1787, he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and head the committee to draft the new U.S. Constitution. His impressive leadership there convinced the delegates that he was by far the most qualified man to become the nation’s first president.
At first Washington hesitated. He wanted to return to a quiet life at home and leave governing the new nation to others. But public opinion was so strong that eventually he gave in. The first presidential election was held on January 7, 1789, and Washington won handily. John Adams (1735-1826), who received the second-largest number of votes, became the nation’s first vice president. The 57-year-old Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, in New York City. Because Washington, D.C., the nation’s future capital city wasn’t yet built, he lived in New York and Philadelphia.
The United States was a small nation when Washington took office, consisting of 11 states and approximately 4 million people, and there was no standard for how the new president should conduct domestic or foreign business. Mindful that his actions would likely determine how future presidents were expected to govern, Washington worked hard to set an example of fairness, wisdom, and integrity. In foreign matters, he supported cordial relations with other countries but also favored a position of neutrality in foreign conflicts. Domestically, he nominated the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay (1745-1829), signed a bill establishing the first national bank and set up his own presidential cabinet. His two most prominent cabinet appointees were Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), two men who disagreed strongly on the role of the federal government. Hamilton favored a strong central government, while Jefferson favored stronger states’ rights. Washington believed that divergent views were critical for the health of the new government, but he was distressed at what he saw as an emerging partisanship.
Washington Retires to Mount Vernon
In 1796, after two terms as president and declining to serve a third term, Washington finally retired. In his farewell address, he urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards domestically and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. The address is still read each February in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.
Washington returned to Mount Vernon and devoted his attentions to making the plantation as productive as it had been before he became president. More than four decades of public service had aged him, but he was still a commanding figure.
In December 1799, he caught a cold after inspecting his properties in the rain. The cold developed into a throat infection and Washington died on the night of December 14 at the age of 67. He was entombed at Mount Vernon, which in 1960 was designated a national historic landmark.
Washington left one of the most enduring legacies of any American in history. Known as the “Father of His Country,” his face appears on the U.S. dollar bill and quarter, and hundreds of U.S. schools and towns, as well as the nation’s capital city, are named for him.

Sources:



  1. The Famous People, http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/george-washington-18.php

  2. History.com, http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/george-washington


Haitian Heritage Month Secondary Lesson Plan


GRADE LEVEL: Social Studies – Secondary - Middle and Senior High School
TITLE: Haitian History Timeline
OBJECTIVES: Objectives from the Florida Standards are noted with FS.


  1. The students will use a timeline to identify and describe important events in Haitian history.

  2. The students will utilize timelines to identify the time sequence of historical data.

  3. The students will utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources to identify author, historical significance, audience, and authenticity to understand a historical period.

  4. The students will analyze how images, symbols, objects, cartoons, graphs, charts, maps, and artwork may be used to interpret the significance of time periods and events from the past.

  5. The students will conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question. (FS)

  6. The students will determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas. (FS)

SUGGESTED TIME: 1-2 class periods
DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITIES:
TEACHER’S NOTE:
This lesson asks students to utilize a timeline to identify key events in Haiti’s history. Two different options are provided for this lesson. Teachers may choose the plan that best fits the abilities of their students.

OPTION #1 – Utilizing the Timeline Provided in this Instructional Resource Guide


  1. Pass out copies of “A Chronology of Key Events in the History of Haiti” (provided in the Background section of this instructional resource guide).




  1. To help students become confident with the use of the timeline, ask students to answer the following questions for practice while using the timeline as a reference:




  1. When did “Papa Doc” Duvalier seize power?




  1. When were Haiti’s first free elections held? Who was elected President?




  1. Charles Leclerc failed to conquer Haiti’s interior lands. In what year did this happen? Who was Leclerc related to?




  1. Place the following events in chronological order:

_____ “Baby Doc” Duvalier declares himself president-for-life in Haiti.

_____ A 7.0 earthquake devastates Haiti.

_____ The 200th year Haitian independence celebration turns into an uprising.

_____ A deadly cholera epidemic breaks out in Haiti.

_____ Pierre Boyer unites Haiti, but excludes blacks from power.




  1. Explain to students that they will be utilizing the timeline to identify five major events in Haitian history. They will have to describe the event and explain why it is significant.

Pass out the worksheet titled, “Haitian History Timeline” (provided) and have students complete the assignment using the timeline as a reference. Students may work individually or in pairs to complete the worksheet.




  1. Have students share and discuss their findings with the class. See if there is consensus on the most important event selected.

OPTION #2 – Creating a Timeline from Resources Provided in this Instructional Resource Guide


  1. Have students develop their own historical timeline for Haiti by reading the approximately five-page History section of the article entitled, “Haiti.” The article is found in the Background section of this instructional resource guide.




  1. The timeline should include at least 10 events in Haiti’s history that students feel are critical to understanding the history of the nation.



  1. Once students create the timeline, ask them to then complete the “Haitian History Timeline” assignment (provided) using their timelines as a reference.


ASSESSMENT STRATEGY: Completion of the timeline activity.
MATERIALS/AIDS NEEDED: “A Chronology of Key Events in the History of Haiti” (provided in the Background section of this instructional resource guide); History section of the article entitled, “Haiti” (provided in the Background section of this instructional resource guide); blank Timeline (provided)

Haitian History Timeline
Directions: Select and describe 5 events from the Haitian history timeline you feel are important in understanding the history of the nation.
Event #1: _____________________________________________________________
Date of the Event: _______________________________________________________
In your own words describe the event: ______________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Why do you feel this event is significant:_____________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Event #2: _____________________________________________________________
Date of the Event: _______________________________________________________
In your own words describe the event: ______________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Why do you feel this event is significant:_____________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Event #3: _____________________________________________________________
Date of the Event: _______________________________________________________
In your own words describe the event: ______________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Why do you feel this event is significant:_____________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Event #4: _____________________________________________________________
Date of the Event: _______________________________________________________
In your own words describe the event: ______________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Why do you feel this event is significant:_____________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Event #5: _____________________________________________________________
Date of the Event: _______________________________________________________
In your own words describe the event: ______________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
Why do you feel this event is significant:_____________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________



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Haitian Heritage Month

Secondary Lesson Plan

GRADE LEVEL: Social Studies – Secondary – Middle and Senior High School
TITLE: Haitian History and Culture
OBJECTIVES: Objectives from the Florida Standards are noted with FS.


  1. The students will identify key characteristics of culture (e.g., language, government/politics, education, art, music, dance, religion, traditions, food).




  1. The students will research and compile information on the history and culture of Haiti.




  1. The students will conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. (FS)



  1. The students will determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. (FS)



  1. The students will use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information. (FS)


SUGGESTED TIME: Ongoing throughout Haitian Heritage Month. The assignment requires homework and online resources.
DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITIES:
TEACHER’S NOTES:

  1. Separate research assignments are provided for middle and senior high school students. Use the assignment most appropriate for your students.



  1. This assignment will require homework for research and writing. Teachers may opt to have students complete this assignment in parts over the course of Haitian Heritage Month.

  2. A number of resources on Haiti are available in the Background section of this instructional resource guide. These may serve as initial references for this assignment (e.g., background on history/culture, fast facts, maps). Other references, including the Internet, should also be made available to students.

  3. Teachers may opt to have students work as individuals, in pairs, or in small groups to complete this assignment.

  4. Teachers may choose to have this assignment completed as a paper and pencil assignment or as a student presentation (e.g., oral report, technology presentation).




  1. Explain that this month we are commemorating Haitian Heritage Month.

Show students a map of the Caribbean and Haiti (provided in the Background section of this instructional resource guide.) Ask if any students or their families are from Haiti. Using the maps, ask the Haitian students to identify where they are from in Haiti.

  1. Review the key characteristics of culture (e.g., language, government/politics, education, art, music, dance, religion, traditions, food).

Explain that in the next assignment, students will be examining and summarizing the history, geography, and culture of Haiti.

  1. Have students complete the research assignment entitled, “Haitian History and Culture” (provided).


ASSESSMENT STRATEGY: Completion of “Haitian History and Culture” assignment.
MATERIALS/AIDS NEEDED: “Haitian History and Culture” assignment (provided); maps of Haiti (included in the Background section of this resource guide); references on Haiti (provided in the Background section of this instructional resource guide); additional research resources, including the Internet.
Haitian History and Culture (Middle School)

Directions:


  1. Answer all questions on your own paper. Some questions have multiple parts.

  2. Divide your report into sections (The Land and Climate, History, etc.)

  3. Create a cover for your report that includes a drawing or photograph that you feel represents Haitian heritage and culture.

The Land and Climate

  1. Draw or locate a blank map of Haiti and complete the following:



  • Label the capital city.

  • Label the bodies of water that border Haiti.

  • Draw and label Haiti’s major rivers and landforms, such as mountains.

  • Name Haiti’s administrative departments.



  1. Describe the climate in Haiti.



  1. Identify and describe the natural disasters that been experienced in Haiti in recent years. What is being done to help Haiti recover?



  1. Locate at least five (5) pictures or photographs that illustrate Haiti’s land and climate. Label and include these in your report.

History


  1. What was Haiti originally named? What does “Haiti” mean?



  1. What country first explored and settled Haiti? What was the purpose of the early exploration?



  1. Were there any native people in Haiti at the time of exploration? Who were these people and how were they treated by the early explorers? Are these people still living in Haiti?



  1. Describe in 2-3 paragraphs how Haiti became an independent nation.



  1. Create a timeline that includes at least six (6) events from Haiti’s history you feel are very important.



  1. What do the colors and symbols represent on the Haitian flag?

The People


  1. What is the current population of Haiti? Is the population increasing or decreasing in size?



  1. What languages are spoken in Haiti?


Life in Haiti - Customs and Traditions


  1. Research the cultural customs and traditions of Haiti and answer the following:



  • What religions are practiced in Haiti?

  • What foods are enjoyed in Haiti?

  • What holidays and ceremonies are celebrated in Haiti?

  • What kind of dances and music are enjoyed in Haiti?



  1. Locate at least five (5) pictures or photographs that illustrate life in Haiti. Label and include these in your report.

Government


  1. What type of government does Haiti have?



  1. Who is the president of Haiti?

Economy

  1. What is the economy of the country based on? (examples: industry, manufacturing, farming)

Current Problems Facing Haiti


  1. What major problems does Haiti face today? (Possible problems may involve the economy, social issues, health issues, political issues, education.) What is being done to solve these problems?



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