Wednesday, March 26, 2008

13 Unusual Names From U.S. Elections

I often encourage students to conduct further historical research during Language Arts. I allow students to research things they would like to know more about. This knowledge not only sharpens research and writing skills, but we extend Social Student content to topics I might not ever reach in the classroom.

Of course, I do teach a full blown unit every year on formal research and writing where we develop a topic, research, take notes, and then develop those notes into a three to four page report with a reference list to boot. For this unit I have always used U.S. Presidents for our topic became I’m very familiar with the books and I’m pretty knowledgeable about each administration.

I make several databases available to students for their research including this one that uses a pull down menu to access voting information for each election. The site not only lists the winners but lists all of those than ran. Sometimes I use this database as a center-type activity for students to research and answer a question or make an observation. One question I’ve used is to ask students to look at the information for the 1800 election and compare the information to the 1804 election. Students should see for the first time in 1804 a separate race was established for the office of Vice-President due to the passage of the Twelth Amendment. Up to that time the second runner-up automatically assumed the office of Vice President.

Another observation I’ve asked students to make in the past involved strange or unusual names of men who have run for the two highest offices in our nation by choosing 10 elections and reviewing the names listed. I remind students that the names should not be those that we hear every day.

Here are the top 13 results:

1. De Witt Clinton---Election of 1812 (P)

2. Elbridge Gerry---Election of 1812 (VP)

3. Theodore Frelinghuysen---Election of 1844 (VP)

4. Hannibal Hamlin----Election of 1860 (VP) He actually won

5. Shuyler Colfax---Election of 1868 (VP)

6. B. Gratz Brown---Election of 1872 (VP)

7. Absolom West---Election of 1884 (VP)

8. Alson Streeter---Election of 1888 (P)

9. Ignatius Donnelly---Election of 1900 (VP)

10. Valentine Remmel---Election of 1900 (VP)

11. Silas Swallow---Election of 1904 (P)

12. Thomas Tibbles---Election of 1904 (P)

13. Estes Kefauver---Election of 1956 (VP)

and one of my favorite unusual names even though he resigned in disgrace was Spiro Agnew who ran for VP in 1968 and 1972 winning both times.

Which name do you think sounds the most unusual?

The image with this post is from the 1880 Republican National Convention in Chicago courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Catch other 13s here.


Anonymous said...

Hannibal Hamlin is priceless! I always thought that Millard Fillmore was a strange sounding name. And of course there was Salmon P. Chase who was President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury.

Robin said...

Was Frelinghuysen from NJ? I went to Rutgers and there was a dorm called Frelinghuysen.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

fun post i guess nine is oddest to me

John Heneghan said...

Thanks EHT, I enjoyed the presidential names (poor Mr. Swallow) and have bookmarked the database.

EHT said...

Thanks for visiting. Nicholas, I believe my students would consider Salmon P. Chase an unusual name as well.

I wonder what the nickname for old Ignatious would be? Iggy?

Robin, I'm not sure about Frelinghuysen's connection to your dorm and New Jersey. I'll have to check on that.

I'm glad you stopped by John. I wonder if Mr. Swallow was teased as much as he probably would be today.

There are many of those sorts of databases on the net. That particular one is easy for kids to manipulate with the pull down menu and I love the inclusion of the circle graphs which we don't always get enough experience with. They are always on "that" test though.

sobeit said...

I think Silas Swallow if the one I pick....very interesting list!


The Tour Marm said...

From your list: Estes Kefauver

Biblical and family names are now giving way to the new African American and other ethnic names, so I think we'll be seeing a lot more like Barack Obama, John Sununu, and Condoleeza Rice.