Guide to the Presidents



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The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents: “Assume the Position” - 1789-1825

George Washington 00:00-19:45


  1. What made this new office of president so different in the world?



  1. The Founding Fathers established strong courts, a strong legislature, but planned for a weak executive. Why?



  1. Why did the Founding Fathers create the Electoral College?



  1. Why did Washington create a cabinet of advisors?



  1. Why was the location of the new nation’s capital city controversial?



  1. Washington wanted to leave the presidency after his first term. Why?



  1. War broke out in Europe, prompting Washington to respond. What did he choose to do and why do you think he chose that action?



  1. What precedent did the above proclamation set?



  1. What significant precedent did Washington set upon leaving office?



  1. As a general rule, how did the Founding Fathers view political parties?


John Adams 19:45-25:45


  1. Adams had a great background that made him appear perfect for the presidency. What did he lack?



  1. What did the Alien & Sedition Acts do? Why were these acts especially problematic?


Thomas Jefferson 25:45-31:15


  1. Historian Libby O’Connell said, “One of the things that Jefferson brings [to the presidency] is this sense of acting out democracy.” What do you think she means by this?



  1. What power did the Supreme Court claim in Marbury vs. Madison?



  1. In what ways did the Louisiana Purchase represent a challenge to Jefferson’s principles?


James Madison 31:15-37:34


  1. Describe James Madison.



  1. How did Dolly Madison define the role of first lady?



  1. The U.S. declared war against Britain in 1812. Why was this a huge problem for the U.S.?



  1. In August of 1814, the British captured Washington, D.C. and set fire to the White House. How do you think this impacted Americans psychologically?



  1. How did the War of 1812 change the way Americans viewed themselves?


James Monroe 37:34-44:10


  1. In what ways was James Monroe the last of his kind?



  1. What issue had the previous presidents avoided that Monroe had to finally confront? Why did he have to confront it?



  1. What did Monroe claim in the Monroe Doctrine?



  1. How did the post-Monroe time represent a new era for the presidency?

KEY - Episode 1

The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents: “Assume the Position” - 1789-1825

George Washington 00:00-19:45


  1. What made this new office of president so different in the world?

  • There was nothing to really compare it to. Most other countries were ruled by kings.

  1. The Founding Fathers established strong courts, a strong legislature, but planned for a weak executive. Why?

    • They felt that King George III was an abusive executive. They didn’t want to follow the example of foreign nations, which all had strong executives.

  2. Why did the Founding Fathers create the Electoral College?

  • The delegates didn’t think the common people would know the candidates well enough to choose among them.

  1. Why did Washington create a cabinet of advisors?

    • He wanted a group of trusted people to help him decide what was proper for a president to do.

    • His decisions were setting new precedents for the future and he wanted to make good ones.

    • He wanted to be able to consult with people who were brilliant in their respective fields, to receive their counsel and to have them run executive departments.

  2. Why was the location of the new nation’s capital city controversial?

    • The various regions (e.g. the South) wanted to control it, and they did not want the other region to control it.

  3. Washington wanted to leave the presidency after his first term. Why?

    • He wanted to retire to his own home/farm.

    • He had exhausted himself in the service of his country.

    • He didn’t like being criticized or challenged.

  4. War broke out in Europe, prompting Washington to respond. What did he choose to do and why do you think he chose that action?

  5. What precedent did the above proclamation set?

    • That it is the president and not Congress that sets American foreign policy.

  6. What significant precedent did Washington set upon leaving office?

    • That a president would only serve for two terms.

  7. As a general rule, how did the Founding Fathers view political parties?

    • Their feelings towards party politics were generally very negative.
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