Heading to Washington, DC? Make sure your students learn about some of our country’s most influential leaders before they travel. From their greatest accomplishments to where to find information about them in Washington, D.C., we compiled need-to-know information about a few of our nation’s leaders.
1) George Washington – 1st President of the United States of America
Our nation’s first president began life on a plantation on the Potomac River, but his leadership skills would quickly bring him into the military realm. By the time of the Revolutionary War, Washington was a clear choice for general. After independence was asserted, Washington worked with the rest of the Founding Fathers to create a strong national government that would ensure order over the states.
Fun fact: Washington didn’t have enough money to host his own inauguration, so he had to borrow $600 from his neighbor.
2) Thomas Jefferson – 3rd President of the United States of America
One of the earliest and most fervent supporters of American independence, the third president of the United States and draftsman of the Declaration of Independence most certainly left an impact on the country. During his time in office, he signed the Louisiana Purchase and instigated the Embargo Act of 1807, which suspended U.S. trade with Europe.
Fun fact: Jefferson was convinced that if he soaked his feet in a bucket of cold water every day, he’d never get a cold.
3) Abraham Lincoln – 16th President of the United States of America
Lincoln’s Civil War leadership and humanitarianism transformed the country. He began life humbly, yet as he grew as a lawyer and politician he found himself in the center of the abolitionist debate. His election provoked Southern states to secede, but with the help of an expertly-composed cabinet he led the Union to victory.
Fun fact: Lincoln was the first president to ever be photographed at his inauguration. In the photo, he is standing near John Wilkes Booth, his future assassin.
4) Franklin D. Roosevelt – 32nd President of the United States of America
Roosevelt came into office during the Great Depression, yet he was able to transform the economy with his New Deal programs. Focusing on relief, recovery and reform, he established Social Security, put new controls on banks and gave heavier taxes to the wealthy. While Roosevelt was ultimately a man of peace, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor he sent the nation into World War II.
Fun fact: FDR holds the record for the longest-serving American president.
5) Harry S Truman – 33rd President of the United States of America
After having served as the vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt for only three months, Truman assumed presidency as a result of his predecessor's unexpected death. During his time in office, he ended the war in Europe, made the controversial decision to launch the atomic bomb, supported the creation of NATO and instigated the Korean War.
Fun fact: The “S” in Harry S Truman doesn’t stand for anything; therefore, there is no period after his middle initial.
Continue reading about all 10 presidents by downloading our free infographic!