The year is 2021 and I have been put to the task of designing a history class focusing on 7 presidents: Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. This class is going to be a 16 week, twice a week, 3 hours per class college class much like the ones taught at Charter Oak State University by dedicated former prosecutors. Of the sixteen weeks we’ll assume 2 weeks (4 classes) will be throw away days due to holidays and final exams. The remaining 14 weeks divides wonderfully by the seven presidents being studied into two weeks per president, ultimately meaning four classes per president.
The first two week module of our presidents will be covering the 2 terms of the 26th president of the United States of America, Teddy Roosevelt. Not only is he one of the most interesting presidents, he also will be a lot of fun to learn about, but he also serves as our hook. Once a student takes the two weeks to sit through the thrill ride that is Teddy’s presidential tenure they would be far to invested in the class to drop it, which might be seen as a viable option when we get to the middle weeks of the class and research Wilson, Truman and Johnson.
The first week of the Teddy Roosevelt era would cover the general background about him. From his wealthy family upbringing in Roswell, Georgia to his home schooling and eventual Harvard University education, Roosevelt grew up studying natural history. We would spend at least an hour talking about how he was the youngest member elected to the New York State assembly after only a year after graduating from Harvard. Included in this hour would be the discussion of how his youth impacted his spearheading of the effort to impeach Justice Westbrook and make him the obvious head of the republican party. The second class would lead of talking about how his mother and wife’s death on the same day influenced his decision to leave politics town and operate a cattle farming the Dakotas, only to return to New York state and resurrect his political aspirations in 1986 and to eventually lead a small regiment of men known as the “rough riders” and earn himself a Medal of Honor that was posthumously given to him in 2001..
The second week of the unit will encompass his rise for vice president in 1900 for William McKinley to president in 1901 when McKinley was assassinated. The end of the first class of the second week would be a round table on “progressivism” and what it meant to this country and how it sharpened us for generations to come and what was meant by speak softly and carry a big stick.” The last day of the module will discuss why President Roosevelt declined to run for re-election to take another hiatus in Africa on safari and tour Europe. To close out the module we would discuss the Bull Moose Party, and why the newly formed third party’s candidate, Roosevelt, would be the only third party candidate to come in second place and defeat the incumbent president, but still behind Woodrow Wilson.
After such an enjoyable module with President Roosevelt, the second module of this class would be Woodrow Wilson, who may not seem as interesting in contrast, but was a solid 28th President of the United States of America and made some decisions that shaped this country.
. The first week of class, would discuss President Wilson’s upbringing, early political background as president of Princeton University and Governor of New jersey first term as president. In his first term, Wilson pioneered the Federal reserve Act, Federal Trade Commission Act and Federal income tax, as well as fighting child labor, codifying an 8hour work day for most industries and became a major advocate of the women’s suffrage amendment. That term was seen as the most successful term by any previous president, unmatched in effort by until the New Deal in 1933 by F.D.R which his legislation did the groundwork for.
The second week of the module would be dedicated to the time following his first and very successful term as president. From entry into World War I the 1919 creation of the League of Nations, “Wilsonian” thought ushered in the idea that the U.S. was destined to fight for the spread of democracy all over the world until his debilitating stroke in 1919.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32 president of the united states between 1933 and 1945, would naturally be the next module because the level of interest in this class should be like a roller coaster, with peaks and valleys. The first week would be discussing how he led the country in extreme times of worldwide economic troubles and World War II. The second week would start of with the fact that he was the only president to ever be elected for more than two terms and how his friendships with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin would shape politics during the war and re ignite a national spirit.
Next 2 week module would be Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States that served between 1945 and 1953. First week the discussion topics would range from his serving as vice-president before succeeding to president after the ill-times death of FDR right before the end of WWII and months after starting his unheard of fourth term.
. The second week would focus on topics of his accomplishments as president and more in depth the quote “the buck stops here.” The class would conclude by discussing how his approval rating dropped so dramatically towards the end of his tenure.
Dwight D. Eisenhower would be the next module in this class and we would spends all 2 weeks discussing how the 34th president of the United States went from being a five-star general to one of the more peaceful presidents. His approval rating was lower towards the end of his second term, but since then he has been ranked as one of the top ten presidents.
Next to last would be Lyndon B. Johnson, who was the 36th President of the United States and served between 1963 and 1969. The first week would discuss his assenting from 37th vice president of the United States and how he served in all4 elected offices; Representative, Senator, Vice President and President and his accomplishments in those roles. The second week of class would serve as discussion of how Johnson was seen after his terms as president.
Last but not least, the final two weeks of class would be dedicated to John F. Kennedy, possibly the most colorful president. The 35th President of the United States, served his country from 1961 to his assassination in 1963. The first week would be dedicated to discussing his age in office, his being the only catholic president and his rumored affair that eras hottest woman, Miss Marilyn Monroe. The second week the class would discuss the building of the Berlin Wall, the “Space Race” and the Cuban Missile Crisis, world issues that all happened on his watch.
This class would just be able to touch on the legacies of these seven Presidents, but the two weeks dedicated to each President would give the class a good amount of time to study seven of the most influential presidents of the United States, but hopefully make the class want to learn more about all the presidents on their own time.