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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies

[Detail] Major-General Zachary Taylor--President of the United States. 1848.

Historical Issue Analysis and Decision Making

a) Some men became president in part because war made them popular candidates. Students might use the collection as a springboard for research on the role of war in the election of Presidents. Students can consider how election of the following presidents was affected by war:

George Washington: Revolutionary War, 1775-1783
William Henry Harrison: War of 1812, 1812-1815
Zachary Taylor: Mexican War, 1846-1848
Ulysses S. Grant: Civil War, 1861-1865
Theodore Roosevelt: Spanish-American War, 1898
Dwight D. Eisenhower: World War II, 1941-1945

Washington praying at Valley Forge

The Prayer at Valley Forge painted by H. Brueckner. [c1866]

Search on George Washington and other presidents by name to see war-related images such as this painting of General Washington at prayer at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War.

b) Other presidents are well-remembered because they served during the crisis of a war. Students might find out how the Civil War assured a place in history for Abraham Lincoln and how World War II assured a place for Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Herbert Hoover, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly right. [1928(?)]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left. [c Dec 27, 1933]

c) The Great Depression (beginning with the stock market crash in 1929 and ending in 1942) was a crisis that marked Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt. Hoover was remembered because he was president when the depression began, and Roosevelt because he was president during the battle against it. Students might analyze whether the men themselves had major responsibility for either beginning or ending the depression.

Search on Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt for these portraits.