We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Howard Chandler Christy, Signing of the Constitution, Architect of the Capitol, House wing, east stairway
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Unit 6 Biographies

James Earl Carter (1924-0) Better known as Jimmy Carter, he was the thirty-ninth president of the United States and a champion of civil and human rights. He has served as a leader on international election observation teams and as a mediator of several international disputes. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) Eisenhower was the thirty-fourth president. He served as commander of U.S. Forces in Europe during World War II and was then elevated to Allied commander in chief. Eisenhower was elected president in 1952 and reelected four years later. In 1957, he ordered federal troops into Little Rock to enforce an integration order. He launched the space race and initiated the interstate highway system.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Franklin was the oldest delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. With the possible exception of George Washington, Franklin was the best-known man in America. Born into a poor family, Franklin became an inventor, scientist, diplomat, and publisher. His Poor Richard's Almanac was read nationwide. His career in public service was long and varied, and included service as ambassador to England and France and as governor of Pennsylvania. At the Philadelphia Convention, Franklin was a compromiser, using wit to bring delegates together. A staunch advocate of colonial rights, he helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Paris (1783). He played an important role in creating the Great Compromise. He favored a strong national government and argued that the Framers should trust the judgment of the people. Although he was in poor health in 1787, he missed few sessions, being carried to and from the meeting place in a special chair. Although he did not agree with everything in the Constitution, he believed that no other convention could come up with a better document.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He was a scientist, philosopher, diplomat, and architect. He supported the revolutionary cause and served as governor of Virginia. Between June 11 and June 28, 1776, Jefferson wrote the initial draft of the Declaration of Independence, which was amended by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and submitted to Congress. Jefferson supported the Constitution but was critical of its lack of a bill of rights. He was the first secretary of state in Washington's cabinet and the leader of the Republican Party. Jefferson was elected vice president in 1796 and was chosen president four years later. He was reelected to the presidency in 1804.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) Thirty-sixth president of the United States. Served in both the House and the Senate. Elected in 1955 as Senate Majority Leader. Elected vice president in 1960. Succeeded to presidency in 1963 upon the assassination of President Kennedy. Elected president in 1964.His "Great Society" program included massive grants to cities and metropolitan areas and programs to assist the poor and minorities. More grant programs came into existence during the five years of Johnson's administration than any other time in American history.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth president of the United States. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1946; six years later, was elected to the Senate. In 1960, Kennedy became the youngest man and first Catholic ever elected president. Assassinated in 1963.

Martin Luther King (1929-1968) Religious leader and social reformer. Major leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, he was an advocate of nonviolence. Formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and became its president. Won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Assassinated in 1968.

Niccolo di Machiavelli (1469-1527) Niccolo di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher and diplomat. A central figure in the political Renaissance, he wrote The Prince and discourses on Livy. He is most famous for The Prince, which describes how political leaders can get, keep, and expand political power. Machiavelli believed that political ends justify whatever means—including cruelty—are required to achieve them. He famously observed that it is safer for a prince to be feared than loved.

James Madison (1751-1836) The "Father of the Constitution" was born to a wealthy Virginia family. He was taught at home and in private schools, then graduated from the College of New Jersey. While deciding whether to become a lawyer or minister, Madison became involved in the revolutionary cause, thereby entering state and local politics. His poor health kept him from serving in the military. In 1780, Madison was chosen to serve in the Continental Congress, where he played a major role. He was one of the most influential voices calling for a constitutional convention. He came to the Philadelphia Convention with a plan for the new government, took extensive notes on the proceedings, spoke more than 150 times, and worked tirelessly on various committees. As one of the authors of The Federalist, Madison was also a key figure in the battle for ratification. Following the convention, Madison served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, helping to frame the Bill of Rights and organize the executive department. Under Jefferson, Madison served as secretary of state. He then succeeded Jefferson as president. In retirement, Madison continued to speak out on public issues.

George Mason (1725-1792) George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Later, as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention (see Lessons 9-12) Mason led the movement against ratification of the U.S. Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights (see Lesson 13). Mason did not want government in America to become like government in England, and he believed declarations of rights as limits on government were one way to prevent this.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) Thirty-second president of the United States, the only person to be elected to the office four times. He served during the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Naturalist, philosopher, author. Lived for two years at Walden Pond to demonstrate the simple, self-reliant life. In 1849, he published his essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience." Was imprisoned for one day in 1846 for refusing to pay a tax supporting the Mexican War which he opposed.

George Washington (1732-1799) George Washington was born in Virginia in 1732. He grew up there on several plantations along the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. He was not particularly well educated, but did learn surveying. In 1753, he began his service to the country, which was to continue throughout his life, despite his desire to live a more private existence. Washington's efforts as commander of the Continental Army are well known. After the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, Washington returned to his home, Mount Vernon. Although he did not initially want to attend the Philadelphia Convention, his friends convinced him that his presence was necessary. He was elected president of the convention but spoke little. His presence and approval, however, were important. Nearly everyone assumed that Washington would be the first president of the United States, which, of course, he was, serving from 1789-1797.

Unit 6      Biographies
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