Lesson Plan: George Washington and Mount Vernon

The Swearing in of George Washington

Historian Doug Bradburn talked about presidential duties when George Washington was sworn in and Washington's views on presidential power.


In this lesson, students will view videos to learn about George Washington as a leader as well as his life at Mount Vernon, his home located in Northern Virginia. Through primary sources, interviews with historians and programs on location at Mount Vernon, students will explore the character traits of Washington and how they applied to his life.


  • WARM-UP:

    Have students share what they know about George Washington. Students can share historical facts about him as well as consider the characteristics of Washington.

    Note Taking Chart with Video Clips: George Washington and Mount Vernon

    Guiding Questions with Video Clips: George Washington and Mount Vernon


    • You can post links to videos along with the related questions in this lesson and have students share their responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    • You can save and share the accompanying Google documents and have students complete them as they view the related videos.

    Have students view the two video clips below and respond to the accompanying questions. Discuss students' responses.

    Video Clip 1: The Swearing in of George Washington (2:38)

    Historian Doug Bradburn talked about presidential duties when George Washington was sworn in and Washington's views on presidential power.

    • How well were the presidential duties defined when George Washington was sworn into office?

    • According to Douglas Bradburn, what were Washington’s views on expanding or restricting the powers of the office of the president?
  • Video Clip 2: George Washington: Evolution of the Presidency (4:24)

    Historian Doug Bradburn discussed George Washington's views on the role of the president and his relationship with his Cabinet.

    • How did George Washington view the evolution of the presidency?

    • Explain Washington’s relationship with his Cabinet.

    Using the handouts, have students view each video clip to learn about George Washington as a leader and his life at Mount Vernon. Discuss students' observations and responses to the accompanying questions.

    Video Clip 3: George Washington and the Constitutional Duties of the President (6:46)

    Carol Cadou discusses the significance of George Washington's notes that are shown in his copy of the Acts of Congress. Doug Bradburn explains how George Washington 's experiences helped him learn about the office of the president.

    • Explain the significance of Washington’s notes in his copy of the Acts of Congress.

    • According to Douglas Bradburn, in what ways did Washington learn about the office of the presidency?
  • Video Clip 4: Mount Vernon Slave Quarters (8:24)

    Dennis Pogue and Susan Schoelwer gave a tour of slave quarters at George Washington’s Mount Vernon that show a more historically accurate and nuanced depiction of slave life in 18th century Virginia.

    • What is the challenge in presenting a slave’s life at Mount Vernon that Susan Schoelwer explains?

    • Describe the artifacts that are included in the display.

    • Describe the communities in which slaves lived on Washington’s plantation.

    • Explain how the items in the display represent the lives and duties of male slaves.

    • What rations were slaves given at Mount Vernon?

    • Describe the clothing that some slaves received at Mount Vernon.
  • Video Clip 5: George Washington's Distillery (4:00)

    An authentic working replica of George Washington’s distillery and gristmill were reconstructed on the original foundations at Mount Vernon. Whiskey and other spirits are made there as it was done two centuries ago. Author Dennis Pogue talked about the archaeological reconstruction process of the distillery. George Washington was the only Founding Father to commercially operate a whiskey distillery and, one of the largest of its time, it was one of the most successful economic components of Mount Vernon.

    • Explain the origin of George Washington's distillery.

    • Describe the construction process in building the distillery.
  • Video Clip 6: Preservation of Mount Vernon (2:19)

    Historian Doug Bradburn explains the origin and process of preserving George Washington's Mount Vernon.

    • Explain the origin and process of preserving Mount Vernon.
  • Video Clip 7: George Washington's Personal Trunk (6:36)

    Associate Curator Laura Simo explains the significance of a trunk that is in the Mount Vernon Collection.

    • Explain the significance of trunk #4 as it relates to Washington during the Revolutionary War.

    • How does this object reflect the characteristics of Washington?

    • What items were discovered in the trunk when it arrived in Mount Vernon in 1949?
  • Video Clip 8: George Washington's View on Slavery (3:44)

    Doug Bradburn explains Washington's view on slavery.

    • Describe George Washington’s view on slavery as Doug Bradburn explains.
  • Video Clip 9: The Piazza at Mount Vernon (1:26)

    View the piazza at Mount Vernon as Doug Bradburn explains the history of its preservation.

    • Describe the piazza at Mount Vernon.

    Students can select one of the following activities to complete. They should consider their notes and class discussion to reflect on how the primary sources and information discussed in the video reflect Washington's traits and life at Mount Vernon.

    • Write a paragraph describing George Washington's character as they relate to his leadership and life at Mount Vernon.

    • Use a social media platform to create a post that reflects your understanding of George Washington. You can use images and descriptive words.

    • Write a journal entry or poem describing what your life was like as a person who worked at Mount Vernon.

    Students can view videos in the Resources section below to learn about Martha Washington and complete one the activities.

Additional Resources


  • Accouterments
  • Acts Of Congress
  • Anarchy
  • Archaeology
  • Cabinet
  • Chesapeake
  • Consult
  • Consumption Rations
  • Cumbersome
  • Delegate
  • Descendant
  • Dilapidated
  • Distillery
  • Enumerate
  • Evolve
  • Excavate
  • French Revolution
  • Gristmill
  • Jaw Harp
  • Judicial Branch
  • Legislative Branch
  • Legislature
  • Livery
  • Precedent
  • Preconception
  • Pro Tempore
  • Ratify
  • Relic
  • Restraint
  • Suburban
  • Terrain
  • Treaty
  • Veto


Executive BranchU.S. History


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