The Election of 1800

Lesson One:

1. Students will analyze an authentic newspaper clipping referencing the election of Thomas Jefferson.
2. Students will interpret newspaper clipping with at least 85% accuracy.
3. Students will determine if article is opinion or factual in nature and if article is a positive or negative reflection on election.
4. Students will become aware of multiple perspectives and biases conveyed through media.

- Newspaper Photos (Original Newspaper from 1823, at bottom of this page)
- Primary Source Analysis Sheet

1. Begin lesson with background information on the Election of 1800 (who was involved, major events of the time, etc.). This can be done with a brief lecture 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 and pass out newspaper clipping print-out (alternatively, you can have students review newspaper digitally to save paper/integrate technology into your lesson). I will note that most users have had difficult printing out the images so I would recommend using the photos via the computer.

3. Have students analyze newspaper clipping using the Primary Source Analysis Sheet provided.

4. After students have finished analysis in groups, bring class back together for a group discussion. List on the board all of the ideas students mention. After all groups have participated, point out to students important aspects of the newspaper clipping they did not previously mention (for example, when the newspaper was published, how the newspaper was written, on what page of the newspaper was the election mentioned and for what reason, etc.).

5. Once you are satisfied with the discussion, you can assess students in either of the following ways:
  • Have students write a one to three paragraph essay on why this newspaper would write about an election that occurred almost 25 years prior to its publishing. What was the intent of the article? What did you learn from the article about the election of 1800? Were there any biases?
  • Have students write a newspaper article to be published in the next Sunday edition of the local paper. Articles can include references to modern elections, current events, etc. Creativity on the part of students is the goal here in addition to assessing whether the student has learned the basic historical facts involved in this unit-- and how it can be applied to newspaper writing.