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Archive for May, 2009

May 20, 2009

George Washington Wordled


wordle11Wordle is a fascinating website that allows you to create word clouds out of text. The word clouds give prominence to the words that are repeated the most. A word cloud of President Obama’s inaugural address highlights the words “nation,” “new,” “people,” “world,” and “today.” As a comparison, President Bush’s 2005 inaugural address word cloud highlights the words “freedom,” “liberty,” “one,” and “America;” President’s Clinton’s 1997 inaugural word cloud highlights “century,” “new,” “time,” and “promise ;” and President Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865 highlights the nation’s distress at that time with “war,” “union,” “God,” “woe,” and “years.”

Now I know, since you are reading GWW, the anticipation is killing you as you wonder aloud, “What about George Washington’s word cloud?” Calm down- it has been there all along. As you can see in the box above, a word cloud of Washington’s inaugural address on April 30, 1789 in New York City reveals that the words “government,” “every,” “public,” and “present” were on his mind as he wrote the very first inaugural address. But the word that truly demonstrates Washington’s feelings and intentions is “Fellow-Citizens.” George Washington was making it clear to his listeners that the United States would be run through a legitimate system of government and he was a fellow citizen, just like every other person in the new nation. Brings a little tear to the eye…

Category: George Washington, George Washington in Popular Culture

May 8, 2009

Cartoons in the Classroom


join-or-die-snakeOn May 9, 1754, the first political cartoon was published by Benjamin Franklin in his Pennsylvania Gazette. Most likely designed by Franklin himself, the snake cut into pieces represents Britain’s American colonies. The cartoon was a reminder that the colonies must unite to defend themselves as they entered the French and Indian War. The snake may have been chosen because of a popular superstition that a snake cut into pieces would come back to life if the pieces were joined before sunset. As the Revolutionary War approached, the cartoon became an American symbol for unity and love of liberty.

Political cartoons have become an increasingly appreciated teaching tool over the past decade. In 2005, Mount Vernon invited some of the nation’s most popular political cartoonists to draw cartoons to be displayed in our new Donald W. Reynolds Education Center. The high school lesson plan, “Using Political Cartoons to Understand Historical Events,” has students guess their own captions to accompany these cartoons. How do you use political cartoons in your classroom?

The Jay Treaty by Steve Kelley, The Times Picayune

The Jay Treaty by Steve Kelley, The Times Picayune

Category: Classroom Connections, George Washington in Popular Culture

May 5, 2009

What are you doing George Washington?


twitterYou know when your mother and your congressperson are using a new technology, it is probably here to stay. Weeell… until it is replaced by the next big thing, of course. The “new technology” we are talking about is Twitter, and now even Mount Vernon is twitting! You can find us under the name “GeoWashington.” Twitter is basically a way that you can use your cellphone to let people know “What are you doing?” at any time. As you know from reading this blog, we are ALWAYS up to something new at Mount Vernon! And as an entrepreneur who was always in pursuit of the newest gadgets and technologies, we think George Washington would approve.

Category: George Washington in Popular Culture

May 4, 2009

Could you use $5,000?


toy-for-websiteIf you are an exceptional history teacher who would like a $5,000 cash award, free field trip to Mount Vernon, and an invitation to stay for a week on the grounds of Mount Vernon for the 2010 Teachers’ Institute, then you are in luck! The application deadline for the Mount Vernon History Teacher of the Year award has been extended to May 29th. Applicants must live in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C. Two runner-ups will receive a $500 cash award and an all-expenses-paid field trip to Mount Vernon. For information on how to apply, please see our website.

Category: Awards, Teacher Resources

May 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Washington City!


washington-dcIn 1790, Congress authorized President George Washington to find a site along the Potomac River for a capitol city, and he picked a spot just up the river from his home at Mount Vernon. This was the first time a country had ever established a permanent capitol by legislative action. An area of one hundred square miles, straddling the Potomac, was mapped out by surveyors and the land was not to belong to any particular state. This territory was named “District of Columbia” in honor of Christopher Columbus. French engineer Pierre L’Enfant was hired by Washington to design the city, and in 1791, the District’s commissioners decided to name the city Washington.

On May 3, 1802, Washington was incorporated as a city, and people immediately began to refer to the city as Washington, D.C., as if the D.C. were a state abbreviation. Throughout Washington’s presidency, the First Family (George and Martha Washington, plus two of their grandchildren) lived in a borrowed house in Philadelphia, so a key component of the new capitol city was to have an Executive Mansion, now known as the White House. It’s hard to believe that this beautiful city, internationally reknown for its monuments and museums, was once just a swamp on the Potomac River…

Category: George Washington


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Portraits in Schools

Kids holding George Washington Portrait

Mount Vernon recently invited K-12 schools nationwide to request framed portraits of George Washington to display in a respectful, prominent place.

The response was overwhelming: thousands of schools submitted letters! Along with the portrait, schools received curriculum materials to help explore our first president’s contributions.

Where has George Washington gone back to school? Click here to see!

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