Early American Leaders Early American Leaders

By-Jeaneane P. Kozlowski

Subject-U.S. History



Students will understand the following:

1. A leader demonstrates certain traits, qualities, or characteristics.

2. Leaders exist in America today and existed in early American history as well.


chart paper and markers

paper and pencils


I will ask the students what qualities a good leader posses.


1. In this project, students will identify men and women who are leaders in the community and in the world. After they identify these people, the students will travel back to early America and learn about leaders of the young nation.

Begin by asking students who the principal of the school is and what he or she does. List of leaders' qualities, traits, or characteristics. Such a list might include the following: Makes up rules, rewards and punishes people, earns respect, helps and comforts people, makes people work hard.

2. Go on to ask students to identify the persons who are the leaders of other groups or organizations that they may be familiar with and to list the heads' qualities, traits, or characteristics. Students may identify a person by name or by title. Add qualities, traits, or characteristics of each leader to the list you started in the preceding step.

3. Tell students, or review with them, stories about one or more of the following:

- Paul Revere and the minutemen,George Washington and the Continental Army, and Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence.

4. Convert the list of leadership qualities, traits, or characteristics, which you've been adding to, into a chart with the qualities, traits, or characteristics as column heads. Place the name of one early American leader in each row. Based on what students have learned about Revere, Washington, and Jefferson, ask them to tell you which leader demonstrated which qualities, traits, or characteristics—and when or how. Have a student check off the columns that apply to Revere, Washington, and Jefferson.

5. When the chart is complete, help students interpret it. Ask them to look at the data and comment on it. What traits do all these leaders seem to have in common? What traits do none of them have? What traits do some but not all of them have?

6. After the class discussion, ask students to write one paragraph answering the following questions:

- What does it take to be a leader?

- Why is Revere, Washington, or Jefferson considered a leader?


A Letter Home

Tell students to pretend that they are members of the Continental Congress. Ask them to write letters back home explaining the importance of the document they have just signed—the Declaration of Independence. Students should recognize whatever concerns they may have about the document and should mention in the letters how their decisions will affect the families back home.

“I Rode with Paul Revere”

> Tell students to write a fictional story based on the historical events of Paul Revere's ride. Suggest they write in the first person pretending to be a minuteman who awakened by Revere and rode off into the night with him.

The Rough Drafts

Tell the students to pretend that they are Thomas Jefferson preparing the Declaration of Independence. Since they have learned that there were many drafts that Jefferson created before the final version was sent to England, have the students compose 2 or 3 of these rough drafts.

Email: prncesgee@aol.com