Lesson Plan: Early Political Parties


Objectives: The students will

I. identify the beliefs of the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans of the Election of 1800.

II. simulate the role of the electoral college and House of Representatives in the election of the President.

III. evaluate the validity of the Electoral College in the 1800 and the 2000 elections.

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Chart on Early Political Parties

A) Have students copy chart into their notes or distribute a printed version of the chart.
B) Have students turn to page 280 in their text book.
C) Make an overhead transparency of the chart and cut the chart into sections.
D) Distribute the sections to individual students. Have them place the sections in their correct place on the chart. 

 The Federalists

Alexander Hamilton


Thomas Jefferson

Social Make- Up
 Merchants, Bankers, manufacturers,
New England and Mid-Atlantic Coast
Artists, shopkeepers, settlers, and southern plantation owners, small farm owners in the south and from western regions of the nation. 
Attitude Toward Government
  • Wanted to imitate British aristocracy

  •  (rule by the rich) but without a king.
  • Saw the common people as unable

  • govern themselves. 
  • Willing to censor the press for political power.
  • Wanted more democracy than in the 

  • British Parliament.
  • Common people were able to govern themselves. They wanted

  • greater involvement by the people
    through lower voting qualification.
  • Reduce government interference

  • by decreasing numbers of federal
  • Favored freedom of speech & press.
View on the Constitution
Held "loose constructionist" view that the Federal government had implied powers not listed in the Constitution. Held ''strict'' view of the constitution:
limit the powers of the central
government and support states rights.
Foreign Policy Positions
Favored Britain in culture and trade. Distrusted Britain & wanted closer
relations with France, which had
just been through a democratic
Main Activity (Instructional Input): The Election of 1800

A) Divide the class into two groups: Federalists and Republicans
B) Choose two students to play the roles of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
C) Choose another student to play the role of Aaron Burr.
D) Follow the following procedure:

1) The teacher acts as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
2) Have the "delegates" meet and read aloud their roles.
3) Have each candidate read their speeches aloud to the class.
4) Have the delegates submit a vote on paper according to the roles they have received)
5) The Speaker counts the votes aloud. The Speaker will break the tie in favor of Jefferson.

 Distribute the following scenarios to the two groups and to the candidates.

The Federalists

You believe in a powerful national government, one that will unite the often divided 15 states. You believe that the government should make laws that protect American businesses, especially new factories that are popping up in the northeastern states of Massachusetts and Connecticut and to protect the growing ports of Boston and New York. Your party is made up of merchants and businessmen, and the Federalists are calling for laws that will help those businesspeople become wealthy. Your party also favors Great Britain over France. Your party dislikes the king, but you believe the rich are the best rulers as opposed to the common folk, who you see as too ignorant to rule the nation. You believe Thomas Jefferson as a godless non-Christian who would get rid of religion in America.

You are members of the Electoral College. In the election of 1800, you and your fellow party members will vote for John Adams, who passed laws against the Democratic Republicans such as the Alien and sedition Acts.

The Democratic Republicans

You and your party members support Thomas Jefferson, who believes in the power of the American farmer. Your party is made up of farmers from the South and from the newly admitted western states of Kentucky and Tennessee. You fear a strong central government and you helped bring about the Bill of Rights just nine years earlier. You dislike Federalist policies such as tariffs on factory-made goods from England, and you see the Federalists as willing to violate the Constitution in order to stay in power. The Alien and Sedition Acts are seen as examples of this by members of your party.

In the election of 1800, you will act as members of the Electoral College, and you will vote for both Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The way the electoral college works at this time, the first place candidate wins the presidency, and the second place winner becomes vice-president.

Thomas Jefferson: Speech

My experience as vice president under Mr. John Adams, as governor of the state of Virginia, and as Ambassador to France and Secretary of State under our first President Mr. George Washington should lead you to submit your electoral vote for me. I will lead our nation to greater power here in North America and abroad. I will prevent British power from spreading in North America, and I will seek territory from Spain who holds land to our west.

Aaron Burr: Speech

My friend Mr. Jefferson is respected and loved by many of our people. But he has had his chance to govern. It is time for new blood, new leadership to bring the common man into the halls of power here in our new capital. I pledge to wage war against Mexico in order to expand westward, where great riches lay. Under my leadership, these United States will become a great power in North America, and through our willingness to fight our enemies where ever they may be, we will become a great power in the world.

John Adams: Speech

I have led this great nation since the people elected me as their president in 1796. Before that, I served under Mr. Washington as vice president, and before that, as delegate from Massachusetts to the Continental and Constitutional Congresses. I am my fellow delegates created a plan of government that puts in place a strong federal government, one that will enforce the laws of the land. While we want to protect the rights of the people through a bill of rights, which we enacted just nine years ago, we also pledge to see that businesses flourish and that our nation's wealth increases. That way, we can make the words of our Constitution that say "secure the blessings of liberty" become a reality. Keep me in the office of the president, and I pledge my honor to do my best as President.


Guided Practice:

A) Display the following map to students:

Image Courtesy of Dept. of the Interior.

B) Have students answer these questions:

1) Which regions voted Federalist?
2) Which states voted Democratic Republican?
3) What does the yellow area stand for?
4) Which states had the greatest number of electoral votes?
5) How similar is the distribution of Electoral votes in the east today as compared to 1800?

Homework (Independent Practice): Comparing 1800 to 2000

A) Have students locate an electoral college map of the 2000 election.
B) Have students identify similarities between the two election. Have them also discuss differences.
C) Have students create a cartoon or poster for the Election of 1800 that supports one side or the other. Instruct students to use symbols for Federalist and Democratic-Republican Parties similar to donkey and elephant seen for the modern parties.
D) Have students explain their cartoon or poster to the class.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): The Electoral College: Should It be Abandoned?

A) Have students discuss the purpose of the Electoral College. Inform students that the Electoral College allows smaller states and rural areas to have equal power to large states and populated areas.

B) Have students write a short essay describing why the Electoral College was created and stating whether or not they believe it should be changed or abolished.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

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