Friends and Rivals: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Elementary School

Author Info

Penelope Lemesuir

Type of Lesson


Type of Project (Individual/Group/Both)



30-60 minutes

Challenge Question

What was the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson? How were they alike, and how were they different, especially in their political views?


Students will learn more about these men who are so important to the founding history of the United States and will also become acquainted with the language of their time, and the etiquettes of friendship that they followed. This is a way to learn about Federalism vs Jefferson views of government, a debate that continues in different forms to this day.


  1. 1. Read background material to understand the life histories, politics and friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
    2. Use archival material, including letters and portraits to build a illustrated essay about this topic.