George Washington
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Experience... is the best rule to walk by. --George Washington to John Parke Curtis, West Point, August 24, 1779


   

Teacher Guide
IN HIS OWN WORDS: QUOTATION TIMELINE

Objective:

  • To read and analyze a series of excerpts from George Washington’s letters, journal, speeches, and other documents in order to match the quotation to the event or date in his life


Related standards in historical thinking:

  • Chronological thinking: identify the temporal order of a historical narrative or story; interpret data in timelines
  • Historical comprehension: identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative; reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage; read historical narratives imaginatively
  • Historical research capabilities: obtain historical data; interrogate historical data; marshal needed knowledge of the time and place to construct a story, explanation, or historical narrative


Materials:


Procedures:

  1. Explain to the students that George Washington enjoyed writing letters and writing in his diary throughout his life. Tell them that, with the exception of his letters to Martha, most of which she destroyed, an extensive collection of these materials survives to this day.

  2. Distribute the “Quotation Timeline” worksheet. Explain that the worksheet contain excerpts from letters, journals, speeches, and other documents that Washington wrote over the course of his career.

  3. Ask the students to read the quotations and citations. Younger students should read them out loud.

  4. Have the students match the correct citation to the quotation. They should write the number of the citation in the space next to the quotation.

  5. Ask the students to create a timeline of the quotations. If there is time, ask them to create a visual image to represent the event described in the quotation.

  6. Ask the students to choose at least one quotation and answer the following questions about it:
    1. How old was George Washington at the time of this quotation?
    2. How does the quotation reflect Washington’s age and/or experience?
    3. What led to the events described in the quotation?
    4. What, if any, significant events occurred following this quotation?

  7. In small groups or individually, ask the students to create a pictorial timeline of the events described in each of the quotations. Display the finished products in the classroom or other appropriate venue.


Student Worksheet

In His Own Words: Quotation Timeline

Read the following quotations. Then read the list of dates and events on the following page. Match the quotation to the correct date and/or event in Washington’s life. Write the number of the citation in the space that follows the quotation.

Quotations
“The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress & of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.” 1 _______

“In the name of God amen I George Washington of Mount Vernon – a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this Instrument; which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name, to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others. “Imprimus. All my debts, of which there are but few, and none of magnitude, are to be punctually and speedily paid – and the Legacies hereinafter bequeathed, are to be discharged as soon as circumstances will permit, and in the manner directed.”
2 _______

“We got our Suppers and was Lighted in to a Room & I not being so good a Woodsman as the rest of my Company striped myself very orderly and went into ye Bed as they call’d it when to my Surpize I found it to be nothing but a Little Straw-matted together without Sheets or any thing else but only one Thread Bear blanket with double its Weight of Vermin such as Lice Fleas &c. I was glad to get up (as soon as ye Light was carried from us) I put on my Cloths and Lay as my Companions. Had we not have been very tired, I am sure we should not have slep’d much that night. I made a Promise not to Sleep so from that time forward causing rather to sleep in the open Air before a fire as will Appear herafter.” 3 _______

“I can with truth assure you, I heard Bulletts whistle and believe me there was something charming in the sound.” 4 _______

“I wish the Constitution which is offered had been made more perfect, but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time – and as constitutional door is opened for amendment hereafter – the adoption of it under present circumstances of the Union is in my opinion desirable.” 5 _______

“I luckily escaped witht a wound, tho I had four Bullets through my Coat and two Horses shot under me.” 6 _______

“I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate.” 7 _______

“War having actually commenced between France and great Britain, it behoves the Government of this Country to use every means in it’s power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with either of those powers, by endeavouring to maintain a strict neutrality.” 8 _______

“Beloved Cherokees: Many years have passed since the White people first came to America. In that long space of time many good men have considered how the condition of the Indian natives of the country might be improved; and many attempts have been made to effect it. But, as we see at this day, all these attempts have been nearly fruitless. I also have thought much on this subject, and anxiously wished that the various Indian tribes, as well as their neighbours, the White people, might enjoy in abundance all the good things which make life comfortable and happy.” 9 _______

“It has been determined in Congress, that the whole Army raised for the defence of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the Command of it. You may believe me my dear Patcy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment I have used every endeavour in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the Family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my Capacity.” 10 _______

“In our progress towards political happiness my station is new; and, if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any action, whose motives may not be subject to a double interpretation. There is scarcely any part of my conduct whc may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.” 11_______


Dates

  1. March 11, 1747: Reaction to sleeping in an isolated cabin during his first time on a surveying expedition to the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains

  2. May 31, 1754: Reaction to his first experience with hostile gunfire in a battle between his Virginia Regiment and the French during a mission to build a fort at the Forks of Ohio, in western Pennsylvania; the incident is said to have sparked the French and Indian War

  3. June 18, 1775: Letter to Martha Washington announcing his appointment as commander in chief of the Continental army

  4. July 1755: Letter describing events during the loss at Fort Duquesne in Pennsylvania, when the British Major General Edward Braddock is killed and Washington, his aide, survives despite intense fighting

  5. December 23, 1783: Resignation from the army; address to the Continental Congress

  6. September 24, 1787: Letter to Patrick Henry after submission of the proposed Constitution to the Continental Congress

  7. January 9, 1790: Letter to Catharine Sawbridge Macaulay Graham, describing his thoughts on the magnitude of his role as the first President of the United States

  8. March 4, 1793: Washington’s second inaugural address

  9. April 12, 1793: Letter to Thomas Jefferson regarding Washington’s thoughts on the country’s need to remain neutral

  10. August 29, 1796: Washington’s “Address to the Cherokee Nation”

  11. July 9, 1799: Washington’s last will and testament


Endnotes

  1. http://www.virginia.edu/gwpapers/revolution/doc3.html

  2. George Washington, Writings, ed. John Rhodehamel (New York: Library of America, 1997), p. 1,022.

  3. Ibid., p. 11.

  4. Ibid., p. 48.

  5. Ibid., p. 656.

  6. Ibid., p. 59.

  7. http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres14.html

  8. Washington, Writings, p. 837.

  9. Ibid., p. 956.

  10. Ibid., pp. 16768.

  11. Ibid., p. 752.


Quotation Timeline

Answer Sheet
Quotations with citations

“The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress & of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.” 5

“In the name of God amen I George Washington of Mount Vernon – a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this Instrument; which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name, to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others. “Imprimus. All my debts, of which there are but few, and none of magnitude, are to be punctually and speedily paid – and the Legacies hereinafter bequeathed, are to be discharged as soon as circumstances will permit, and in the manner directed.” 11

“We got our Suppers and was Lighted in to a Room & I not being so good a Woodsman as the rest of my Company striped myself very orderly and went into ye Bed as they call’d it when to my Surpize I found it to be nothing but a Little Straw-matted together without Sheets or any thing else but only one Thread Bear blanket with double its Weight of Vermin such as Lice Fleas &c. I was glad to get up (as soon as ye Light was carried from us) I put on my Cloths and Lay as my Companions. Had we not have been very tired, I am sure we should not have slep’d much that night. I made a Promise not to Sleep so from that time forward causing rather to sleep in the open Air before a fire as will Appear herafter.” 1

“I can with truth assure you, I heard Bulletts whistle and believe me there was something charming in the sound.” 2

“I wish the Constitution which is offered had been made more perfect, but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time – and as constitutional door is opened for amendment hereafter – the adoption of it under present circumstances of the Union is in my opinion desirable.” 6

“I luckily escaped witht a wound, tho I had four Bullets through my Coat and two Horses shot under me.” 3

“I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate.” 8

“War having actually commenced between France and great Britain, it behoves the Government of this Country to use every means in it’s power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with either of those powers, by endeavouring to maintain a strict neutrality.” 9

“Beloved Cherokees: Many years have passed since the White people first came to America. In that long space of time many good men have considered how the condition of the Indian natives of the country might be improved; and many attempts have been made to effect it. But, as we see at this day, all these attempts have been nearly fruitless. I also have thought much on this subject, and anxiously wished that the various Indian tribes, as well as their neighbours, the White people, might enjoy in abundance all the good things which make life comfortable and happy.” 10

“It has been determined in Congress, that the whole Army raised for the defence of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the Command of it. You may believe me my dear Patcy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment I have used every endeavour in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the Family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my Capacity.” 4

“In our progress towards political happiness my station is new; and, if I may use the expression, I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any action, whose motives may not be subject to a double interpretation. There is scarcely any part of my conduct whc may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.” 7


 

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