George Washington: American Revolutionary (1996) - DVD/Video Review for History Teachers | Student Handouts
 
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George Washington: American Revolutionary (1996)
United States History > Revolutionary War > American Revolution Books and Films
 
 
George Washington: American Revolutionary (Biography Channel, 1996) Guide and Review for History Teachers Length: 44 minutes

Age appropriateness: "George Washington: American Revolutionary" is rated "TV-PG" in the United States. It is safe to show in classrooms to students in grades three and up. Based on this documentary's content, we recommend it for students in grades five through eight.

Creators and stars: General Dave Palmer, Harry Smith, James Rees, John A. Washington, Linda Ayres, Michael Barone, Paul Budline, Peter Henriques

Accuracy: The historical accuracy of what is presented in this documentary film is not in question (though some historians might argue over the speculations made regarding George Washington's marriage). The problem with this DVD is its unabashed bias, as well as the fact that no mention is made of Washington's ownership of slaves. The bias of this video is on par with what was told in the USSR about Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s. Viewers deserve better.

Review: "George Washington: American Revolutionary" is perfectly designed to fit into one or two class periods at a junior high school. This documentary's basic content and bias make it fairly useless for most students of senior high school age.

Please be aware that the issue of slavery is completely overlooked in this film. Over a drawing of Washington overseeing a field full of slaves, the narrator says something to the effect that it must have been hard working for George Washington, because he was such a hands-on employer and an early riser. The fact that these "employees" were slaves--and in fact, the word "slave" itself--are never mentioned. I find it rather strange that, on the cusp of the third millennium, the filmmaker glossed over the slavery issue. After all, Washington was the rare slave owner who freed his slaves in his will. George Washington truly was a remarkable man. Knowledge that even a man as great as he was part of such a cruel, insidious part of American history only serves to make him more human, and to illustrate for students that politics and history are complicated; few historical figures are 100% good or 100% bad. But instead, Paul Budline skips over this issue entirely, and leaves viewers with a treatment of Washington that could have been written for fifth-graders in 1950.

That being said, provided that the teacher showing this film raises the slavery issue separately, this film isn't entirely inappropriate for classroom viewing. It succinctly gives a nice overview of Washington's career and the founding of the United States, and hits on a lot of core vocabulary terms, names, places, and dates for this area of Social Studies. We have provided a list of vocabulary terms and names, as well as review questions, below.
 
 
 
 
Vocabulary terms and names: ambitious, Battle of Monmouth, bravery, character, Continental Army, courage, Declaration of Independence, dignified, French and Indian War, General Cornwallis, Hessians, Martha Washington, Mount Vernon, plantation, president, relinquish, reputation, respect, social status, soldier, surveyor, Valley Forge, Virginia, Virginia House of Burgesses

Review and discussion questions: (1) Describe George Washington's childhood. (2) What role did George Washington play in the French and Indian War? (3) Why did George Washington resign from the military? (4) Describe George Washington's participation in the Virginia House of Burgesses. (5) What role did George Washington play in the American Revolution? (6) Why did Washington's relinquishment of his military command following the American Revolution earn him so much respect? (7) Describe Washington's retirement following the Revolutionary War. (8) What role did Washington play at the Constitutional Convention? (9) How many terms did Washington serve as president? (10) Do you believe that a military background is necessary for a president? Why or why not? Explain your answer.
 
 
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"George Washington: American Revolutionary" Movie Review Publication Date for Citation Purposes: June 26, 2012