The Political Career of John Sharp Williams Lesson Plan

Drew Gardner

Students Will

  • Identify the political career of Senator John Sharp Williams.
  • Examine Senator Williams’s position on key legislative measures such as the 18th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.


  • Computer/tablet with internet access
  • Paper and writing utensils

Curricular Connections

Mississippi College- and Career-Readiness Standards for the Social Studies

Mississippi Studies 

  •  MS.4.4 - Analyze government and political influences throughout the state of Mississippi. 

US History: 1877 to Present 

  • US.3.2 - Trace the development of political, social, and cultural movements and subsequent reforms, including:  Jim Crow laws, Plessy vs. Ferguson, women’s suffrage, temperance  movement, Niagara movement, public education,  the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Marcus Garvey. 
  • US.3.4 - Trace national legislation resulting from and affecting  the Progressive Movement, including: the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act. 
  • US.5.7 - Debate the causes and effects of the social change and conflict between traditional and modern culture that took place during the 1920s, including: the role of women, the Red Scare, immigration quotas, Prohibition, and the Scopes trial. 

Teaching Levels

Grades 7 through 12

Before the Lesson

  1. Students will individually read "The Political Career of John Sharp Williams (1854-1932)" article.


  1. The teacher will explain that members of the United States Congress are tasked with the responsibility to represent the people. Every legislative vote is important; however, some weigh more heavily on society than others (i.e. Civil Rights Act of 1964). Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi recorded votes on many pieces of legislation, two being the 18th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution.   
  2. The teacher will ask students to share opinions on Senator Williams’s voting decisions on each of the amendments.  
    • Why would Williams vote in favor of Prohibition if he was opposed to the idea making alcoholic beverages illegal? 
    • Would Williams have been justified to vote his conscience on Prohibition, even if his constituents disagreed? 
    • What does Williams vote in opposition to the 19th Amendment communicate about his views of African Americans, specifically Black women? 
  3. The teacher will organize students into pairs. Each group is responsible for creating a Google Slide presentation on a portion of John Sharp Williams’s career (Early Life, House Representative, Senator, 18th Amendment, 19th Amendment, and Retirement). The presentation must be at least 8 slides.  
  4. Time permitting, each group will present their presentation to the classroom.