By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

(1) Identify factors behind locating the District of Columbia in its current location.

(2) Discuss the earliest peoples in the District and the origin of the name "Anacostia."

(3) Trace patterns of settlement through the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.


12.DC.1. Students identify and locate on a map the principal topographical features of the original federal district and surrounding area.
12.DC.2. Students describe the early Native American and English settlements that were established during the 17th and 18th centuries.
12.DC.3. Students explain how and when Africans came to the Chesapeake and Potomac Region, why a significant number of them were free, the
roles they played in the development of the agrarian economy (e.g., tobacco), and how slavery developed as an institution in the region.


Resources provided here for you to use as necessary with your class.  For those who need them, handouts are available for most sections.  For others, you might want to project sources on a board for class discussion.  Do what works best with your students.

Appropriate handouts and worksheets are attached to each section of the lesson plan.  You will also need a class set of Melder's City of Magnificent Intentions

Warm Up

Introduce the following questions either through a written warm-up, or by simply asking them of your class.  When students have had a moment to compose their own answers, discuss them as a class.  Make sure to hit the points below. 

1.  What is the role of water in history?  / How many times in your 12 years of schooling have you talked about water?

1) Agriculture

2) Transportation

3) Recreation

2.  How has water played a role in history?

1) Geographical Separation

2) Means of Connection (through Technology)

3) Essential to  Economies (fishing, etc.)

3.  How do YOU interact with water? 

Answers will vary. 

Lesson 1 - Warm Up

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New Material

Students will progress from an analysis of an 1863 photo of what is today the National Mall to a look at L'Enfant's orginial plan of the city, and on to read and storyboard brief passages from the tetbook about the growth of the city.

East & west branch below Washington
Creator: Köllner, Augustus
Source: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004662008/
Date: September 1839

1.  What river is in this picture?  What do we call it today?

East Branch - Anacostia River 

2.  Using evidence from the image, how did people cross the river at this time?

Boat, Bridge 

3.  Using evidence from the image, why would people want to cross the river?

Commerce, etc. 

National Mall, with view of canal on Constitution
Creator: Unknown
Source: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/00653031/
Date: c. 1863

Students should analyze this picture by having a copy projected on the board in front of them, as well as a copy they can write on and manipulate at their desks.  Students should be encouraged to identify familiar landmarks.

Notable Landmarks: Smithsonian Castle, Incompleted Washington Monument, Canal

Notably Absent Landmarks: Anything past the Washington Monument

As analysis continues, note the presence of the canal.  Have students discuss what the purposes might be for having a canal through the middle of the city.  What might be some risks associated with this?

Further Thoughts:  Also present in the photo is the army hospital built during the Civil War.  Would it be a good idea to have injuries like this near water?  Why or why not? 

Lesson 1 - New Material

Document analysis of two photos from New Material section.

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L'Enfant-McMillan Plan of Washington, DC - 1791
Source: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/dc0776.sheet.00002a/

Begin independent practice by looking at the following map and identifying:

1)  4 items that are familiar and present in today's city.

2)  4 items that are different between this 1791 plan and 2012.

3)  2 reasons for DC deviating from this original plan. 

Keith Melder, City of Magnificent Intentions, 1997.

In order to condense a large amount of hitory into a short about of time, have the students read the "Summary" introductions for each chapter and storyboard the settlement of DC. 

Chapter 1 - page 5 - "Early Settlers of the Potomac Region"

Chapter 2 - page 21 - "Origins of the National Cpaital" 

Chapter 3 - page 43 - "Growing Pains"

Chapter 4 - page 68 - "The Look and the Life of the City, 1820-1860"

Chapter 5 - page 91 - "Economc and Political Problems, 1820-1860" 

Use attached worksheet for storyboarding. 

Lesson 1 - Practice I

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Lesson 1 - Practice II - Storyboard

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Create an advertisement poster for the District of Columbia before 1860.

Lesson 1 - Assessment

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Closure and Reflection

Choose one piece of evidence from today's lesson that helps answer the following question:

 How has the presence of the Anacostia River influences settlement "East of the River"?

 For your chosen piece of evidence, write:

1) A Brief Description

2) Where the source can be found

3) How does this evidence help answer the question?