U.S. History: Western Expansion- Tennessee Presidents

Students will analyze primary sources related to the presidencies of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson in order to answer questions about the major issues of these administrations, the limits of presidential power, and the contributions of these Tennesseans to the presidency. Then they will create presentations on each president to share with the class. 

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

The learner will

  • Analyze a set of primary sources to gain an understanding of the major issues of each President’s term(s).
  • Create and deliver a presentation on the assigned President to share the group’s discoveries with the class.
  • Consider the common themes, goals and challenges of these three presidencies. 
Essential and guiding questions: 

What issues were most important during each President’s term(s)?
How did these three Presidents challenge the limits of executive power?
What goals and challenges did these three Presidents have in common?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 

Have students use their notes from the Investigative Questions Worksheet, along with previous knowledge and/or additional research to write an essay answering the following prompt: How were the presidencies of Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson influenced by their background as Tennesseans?
As a class project, use the presentations created by each group as the basis for an exhibit on the Tennessee presidents to be displayed in your school. 

Helpful Hints


  • Primary Source Analysis Tool
  • Investigative Question Worksheet
  • Internet Access (if possible)
  • Materials to create presentations: poster board, glue or tape and markers, or PowerPoint and display capabilities