The Election of 1800

Lesson Three:

1. With teacher's prompting and guidance, students will be able to analyze primary source documents for historical significance and understanding.
2. Using the primary source analysis worksheet, students will be able to interpret political cartoons with at least 85% accuracy.
3. Students  list three ways in which political cartoon negatively portrays Thomas Jefferson.
4. Students will explain why political cartoon would be published during election.

- Primary Source Analysis Sheet
- Political Cartoon

1. Begin lesson with previous information learned on the Election of 1800 (who was involved, major events of the time, etc.). This can be done with a brief discussion led by the teacher or by having students review the Background Information provided on this website. Be sure to assess that students understand the time period to be studied, as well as the background of each political candidate either through class discussion and/or observation.

2. Place students into groups of three and pass out political cartoon sheet.

3. Give time for students to discuss with one another what they think is going on in the cartoon. Resist the urge to reveal the true meaning behind the political cartoon. After ample time has passed (use discretion depending on your own classroom), pass out Primary Source Analysis sheet for students to fill out. 
  • According to the description from the Library of Congress, this cartoon depicts Jefferson kneeling before the altar of Gallic despotism as God and an American Eagle attempting to prevent him from destroying the U.S. Constitution. Here, Jefferson is supported by Satan, the writings of Thomas Paine, and French philosophers.
  • This cartoon was published between 1797-1800.

4. After students have finished working in groups, conduct a class discussion about the meaning of the political cartoon using the following sample questions as guidelines:
  • Is this cartoon supporting Thomas Jefferson or is it critical of him? (critical--shows Satan as his supporter)
  • What is the tone of this cartoon? (negative)
  • Who would create this cartoon and for what purpose? (Federalists to smear Jefferson's campaign for presidency because of his strict advocacy for the separation of Church and State.)

5. Assess students' understanding of analyzing political cartoons by using a local newspaper's political cartoon. Ask students to analyze its meaning and significance in a one to three paragraph essay (assigned as homework).