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Is It Only a Shadow?: The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt - page 2 / 5





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1. Look at the portrait. Analyze the portrait using the National Portrait Gallery’s found at http://npg.si.edu/docs/reading.pdf.

  • 2.

    Gather biographical facts from the portrait’s symbols and construct the context of the sitter’s life.

  • 3.

    Use web resources and available books to research the sitter’s life and historical contributions.

  • 4.

    Compare the facts gathered from the portrait with the researched facts, and share with classmates.

Questions to consider with your students:

  • What building is being touched by the head of the shadow?

  • Who is the shadow meant to represent? How can you tell?

  • Do the men on the balcony and the men leaning out the windows of the building (President William McKinley and some leading advisers) like or dislike the shadow? How can you tell?

  • What do you think this cartoon means? What story is the artist trying to tell?

Political Cartoon Activity

  • 1.

    Distribute one copy of the image to each student.

  • 2.

    Ask students: If the cartoonist had included speech bubbles for the men on the balcony (President William McKinley and his chief adviser, Senator Mark Hanna), what do you think they would have been saying to each other?

  • 3.

    Have students, working individually or in pairs, create speech bubble dialogue for the two men that explains their reaction to the shadow. Students can write their dialogue on paper or use the speech bubble template (see end of lesson).

  • 4.

    Discuss as a class or have students research in small groups the decision to nominate Roosevelt as McKinley’s vice president in 1900 and the events surrounding McKinley’s assassination in 1901. See the Web Resources section for more information about these events.

  • 5.

    Have students work in small groups to create two political cartoons. One cartoon should show McKinley and Hanna discussing the decision to nominate Roosevelt as vice president, and the other should reflect Hanna’s reaction to the news that Roosevelt has become president upon McKinley’s death. Provide the following guidelines for student cartoons:

    • Each cartoon should have a minimum of one frame and a maximum of four frames.

    • Start with a single, clear idea

    • Avoid cluttering the cartoon with too many elements (unless they are central to its meaning). Use words and visual elements to make a single point.

    • Be sure that the most important visual element stands out.

    • Exaggerate for a reason, and don’t overdo it.

    • Avoid using too many words, and make sure the ones you use are legible.



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