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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Jacksonian Era

Moonwalk with Shmoop through history.


Students might be more familiar with the Jacksonian era of "Thriller" and "Smooth Criminal," but it's your job to teach them about that other important Jackson: Andrew. And we have the ABCs and 123s of this influential presidential figure.

In this guide, you won't find any moonwalking, but you will find

  • a timeline activity to help students sort out what was going on when.
  • modern connections from folks party-crashing the White House to people being dubbed the "New Jackson."
  • related resources, like guides on the War of 1812 and Manifest Destiny.

And much more.

With this material, you can teach students all they need to know without having to slip 'em each a twenty.

What's Inside Shmoop's History Teaching Guides

Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring history to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes to be sure students are looking at the material through various lenses.
  • Resources to help make the topic feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the topic and how you can overcome the hurdles.

Instructions for You

During the 1828 presidential election, opponents of candidate Andrew Jackson circulated this handbill.

While fighting the Creek Indians, allies of the British during the War of 1812, Jackson had approved the execution of six militiamen convicted of desertion. Keeping American military soldiers in line during this period was extraordinarily difficult. Most units were composed of state militia; the federal military was very small. And these state militias were unevenly trained and compensated; their terms of enlistment (i.e. how, and for how long, they fought) varied bigtime.

Jackson earned a reputation as a hard-nosed soldier (his men named him "Old Hickory") and a strict disciplinarian; during the defense of New Orleans, he had hundreds of soldiers jailed for various crimes, including desertion, drunkenness, and sleeping on duty. Still, controversies swirled around the justice within these executions.

Students should examine this handbill and consider the questions listed below.

(Lesson aligned with CA History-Social Sciences 9th-12th grade historical interpretation standards 2, 3, 4)

Instructions for Your Students

Take a look at this handbill, published by opponents of Andrew Jackson during the 1828 presidential election. Think about the following questions:

  • Why was this handbill politically effective?
  • What other episodes or events from Jackson's past may have fed this criticism of Jackson's presidential qualifications?
  • Why might John Quincy Adams's supporters, in particular, be receptive to this particular attack on Jackson?
  • Does military experience prepare a person for the presidency?
  • Which aspects of military experience prepare a person for the presidency? Which aspects of military experience might make the transition to public office difficult?
  • Did Jackson's performance as president confirm or rebut these suggestions that his military background left him ill-suited for the presidency?


Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary & Analysis    Timeline    People    Facts    Photos    Best of the Web    Citations    
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