Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Legacy of Pendleton Civil Service Act - Election of 1884
Author:
Kate Sutter
Course:
US History
Time Frame:
One 45-minute class period
Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Students will analyze Thomas Nast’s Sacred Elephant cartoon from 1884 and relate it to their knowledge of the Garfield/Arthur administration

Rationale:
  • I want to extend the students’ understanding of the change from the spoils system and the assassination of Garfield by looking at their implications on the next presidential election.

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


  • History: Continuity and Change
    • Theme 1B: Explain connections between historical context and peoples’ perspectives at the time in United States history
    • Theme 1D: Using an inquiry lens, develop compelling questions about United States history post c. 1870 to determine helpful resources and consider multiple points of views represented in the resources.
    • Theme 1E: Analyze the causes and consequences of a specific problem in United States history post c. 1870 as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.
  • People, Groups, and Cultures
    • Theme 1A: Using a United States’ historical lens, describe how peoples’ perspectives shaped the sources/artifacts they created.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Information explaining The Sacred Elephant found at Harper’s Weekly site
  • Information explaining the Pendleton Civil Service Act
  • UC Davis’ History Project Primary Source Toolbox strategy (image in this document below)
  • Review of any materials previously discussing the Pendleton Civil Service Act and Garfield/Arthur

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Full description of activity or assignment.
  • For the “think” portion:
  • Students will be given a link to the Harper’s Weekly webpage for The Sacred Elephant and (if desired) the Pendleton Civil Service Act
  • Students will be given a copy of the UC Davis History Project’s Primary Source Toolbox
  • Students will work through the 4 steps using the website and (if desired) the Pendleton Civil Service Act

 

  • For the “pair” portion:
  • Students will partner with a neighbor(s) an share the observations, questions, patterns, and connections they made while analyzing the cartoon.
  • They will try to answer each other’s questions and elaborate on observations and connections.
  • If time allows, the pair or group can attempt to corporately generate a question, observation, and connection.

 

 Primary Source Cartoon and Primary Source Toolbox questions

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Continuing the “Think Pair Share” strategy, students will share out what they and their partner(s) discussed. The class will try to answer each other’s questions and elaborate on observations and connections.