Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Who's the Boss?
Kate Sutter
Political Science
Time Frame:
One class period
Primary Source Analysis
Career Explorations
Declaration Of Human Rights
Korean War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Either guided discussion or cooperative learning


The purpose of this activity is to help fulfill the new “Career Explorations” aspect of our district’s social studies course for freshmen.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

  • Local Objective #8 "Career Explorations" proper relationships and attitudes in the workplace

3. Principles and processes of governance systems
6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions
7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

Goal 2: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to communicate effectively within and beyond the classroom.
6. apply communication techniques to the job search and to the workplace
Goal 4: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to make decisions and act as responsible members of society.

1. explain reasoning and identify information used to support decisions
3. analyze the duties and responsibilities of individuals in societies

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.
1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.
2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.
3.(A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary
4. (A) compares competing historical narratives in United States history by contrasting different historians' choice of questions, use of sources, and points of view, in order to demonstrate how these factors contribute to different interpretations.
Benchmark 3: The student understands how the United States Constitution allocates power and responsibility in the government.
1. (K) describes the purposes, organization, and functions of the three branches of government and independent regulatory agencies in relation to the United States Constitution.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • A History of the United States textbook by Boorstin & Kelley, Prentice Hall, 2007
  • Unforgettable: The Korean War by PBS - This is a new video I just obtained. I have not watched it yet, but it looked promising.
  • NARA Document Analysis - this could be added easily to the lesson by having each student analyze a document or photo - http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

The following documents could be used in a cooperative format, a Jigsaw, or guided discussion by students. They would need to be organized into the manner desired by the instructor.

Personal memo of Harry S. Truman,  November 25, 1950

Diary Entry of Harry S. Truman, April 5, 1951

Transcript of General Douglas MacArthur's Address to Congress, April 19, 1951

Assistant Naval Aide to the President Lieutenant Commander William Rigdon Log of President Truman's Trip to Wake Island: October 11-18, 1950 found at http://www.trumanlibrary.org/wake/meeting.htm

Military Chain of Command during the Korean War http://www.history.army.mil/books/korea/truce/ch4.htm#chart1
Senate Concurrent Resolution 21, April 11, 1951

Speech Explaining the Firing of MacArthur, Harry S. Truman April 13, 1951 http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=860
Proposed draft messages to Frank Pace, Douglas MacArthur, and Matthew Ridgway, c. April 1951; MacArthur, Douglas-dismissal; General File

Anonymous Statement Regarding General Douglas MacArthur's Statement on Formosa,  ca. September 1950

Draft Report Regarding General MacArthur's Message on Formosa,  ca. 1951. Secretary of State File

Order, as dictated by the President, from the Secretary of Defense to General Douglas MacArthur, dated August 26, 1950, ordering the withdrawal of MacArthur's statement to the 51st National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

Notes Regarding General MacArthur's Message on Formosa,  August 26, 1950. Secretary of State File

Letter from Douglas MacArthur to Joseph W. Martin (Tokyo, 20 March 1951)

Truman Relieves MacArthur of All His Posts; Finds Him Unable to Back U.S.-U.N. Policies; Ridgway Named to Far Eastern Commands

Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur, attached to copy of letter from Douglas MacArthur to Joe Martin,March 20, 1951

Harry Truman Talks About Firing General Douglas MacArthur contains quotes from Merle Miller's oral history with Truman, with Gen. McChrystal firing as the introduction.

Full description of activity or assignment.

The teacher will:

  1. provide copies of documents that the teacher wishes to use
  2. guide discussion on the professional relationship between Truman and MacArthur
  3. guide students to discussion of appropriate workplace relationships with superiors

Students will:

  1. analyze the sources and summarize their findings on a question sheet
  2. participate in a class discussion about working for other people.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Students will complete a reflection in the form of journal entry.  They will pretend they are General MacArthur or President Truman and complete a series of questions about how the situation was handled and what they might have done differently.

Who's the Boss? Scoring Guide

Points Earned

Facts included


Few or no facts about the event were included


Some facts were included, but not enough to meet the requirements, or the student does not show that a variety of documents were used


At least 5 facts were underlined that show the student used a variety of evidence and documents




The entry does not show an understanding of the event or how to relate it to the workplace


Entry shows some understanding of the event and relate it to any workplace. The entry may have been written “out of character.”


Entry shows both an understanding of Truman and MacArthur’s experience and how that relates to the workplace.  An indication of future behavior is present.


Length and Effort


Entry is sloppy, too short, or contains many grammar/spelling errors.


Entry may or may not meet full guidelines.  Some grammar/spelling errors may be present.


Entry is complete and shows a lot of thought.  Complete sentences and proper grammar is present.


Length and Effort


Entry is sloppy, too short, or contains many grammar/spelling errors.


Entry may or may not meet full guidelines.  Some grammar/spelling errors may be present.


Entry is complete and shows a lot of thought.  Complete sentences and proper grammar is present.



Out of 20 points





Name:                                                            Block:


Wake Island Journal Assignment

Write a journal entry as if you are either President Truman or General MacArthur. Use the scoring guide to help you achieve a maximum score


This entry should include:

  1. A summary of the events leading up to MacArthur being fired by Truman
  2. At least 5 facts from the situation that prove you looked at several of the documents
  3. An explanation of why Truman was MacArthur’s superior (boss)
  4. How a person should act while they are employed by someone else, even if they are not currently on duty
  5. What you (or the other person) could have done differently


It’s your turn!  In the space below, complete your journal entry.  (Give it a PROPER date!)  You may use more paper if you wish.


Circle One:  I am      MacArthur     Truman


Dear Journal,


Today is _____________________________, and