Senator Pat Harrison: New Deal Wheelhorse (1933-1941) Suspicious of His Load Lesson Plan


Senator Pat Harrison served his native state of Mississippi in both the U.S. House of Representatives (1911-1919) and the U.S. Senate (1919-1941). In a political career that spanned more than thirty years, Harrison represented his state and nation during difficult times. He served during World War I, during the 1930s Great Depression, and during the buildup to World War II. It was during these challenging times that Harrison served as chairman of the powerful Committee on Finance in the U.S. Senate. His popularity and respect as a national political figure spanned far beyond the state of Mississippi and could be found at every level of the government.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 2 and 5


Grades 7 through 12


  • Mississippi History Now article on Senator Pat Harrison.
  • Pen/pencil
  • Notebook paper
  • Unlined paper
  • Colored pencils/markers
  • Whiteboard
  • Computers for projects (optional)


The students will:

  • Construct a timeline that lists significant events in the life of Pat Harrison.
  • Determine characteristics of a political leader.
  • Create a project on the career of Pat Harrison.


The teacher will ask the students the following questions:

  • Can you name the two legislative bodies of the U.S. Congress?
  • Can you name the Mississippians who have served, or serve, the state as a representative in the U. S. House of Representatives or as a senator in the U. S. Senate?

The teacher will record student answers on the board and add Pat Harrison’s name to the list if he is not mentioned. The teacher will explain to the students that they will now learn about the service of one of Mississippi’s U. S. senators – Byron Patton “Pat” Harrison.


  1. Students will be instructed to read the Mississippi History Now article. While working with a partner, students will construct a timeline of significant events in the life of Pat Harrison.
  2. After the students have completed the timeline, the teacher will ask students to share some of the most significant events in Harrison’s life. The teacher can record the student responses by listing them on the board.
  3. The teacher will ask for student volunteers to suggest characteristics and qualifications they think an individual should possess in order to serve in the U.S. Senate. As students share their suggestions, the teacher can record them on the board.
  4. The teacher will place the students into groups of three or four. Each student group will be assigned at least two characteristics/qualifications from the list on the board. The student groups are to use the Mississippi History Now article to find examples where Senator Pat Harrison exhibited any of the listed characteristics. Once the student groups are able to locate one or more examples for each of their characteristics/qualifications, the teacher will ask each group to share their examples with the class.
  5. For this portion of the lesson, the teacher will instruct the students to complete one of the following activities/projects:
    • Design a political cartoon about an event in Washington during the 1930s or early 1940s. After the students have completed their political cartoon, have them go online to the University of Mississippi Archives and Special Collections to study the political cartoons in the Clifford K. Berryman Collection. The Berryman cartoons ran in the Washington Star from 1924 to 1941 and Senator Harrison was the subject of a Berryman cartoon on many occasions.
    • Design a campaign poster for Senator Harrison’s 1936 election campaign.
    • Write a newspaper article about an event in the career of Senator Harrison.


Allow students to share their activities/projects with the class. After sharing their projects, the teacher will ask the class the following question:

President Roosevelt said of Senator Harrison that he was “keen of intellect, sound in principle, shrewd in judgment [with] rare gifts of kindly wit, humor, and irony.” Do you agreed with President Roosevelt? Why?


  • Class participation
  • Timelines
  • Lists of characteristics for a senator
  • Projects


  • Compare and contrast Senator Pat Harrison and Senator Theodore Bilbo. Students can read about Bilbo in Mississippi History Now‘s profile of Bilbo as a governor of Mississippi.
  • Research the programs included in the New Deal.
  • Research the careers and accomplishments of the current Mississippi senators.
  • Research the committees of the Senate and House.
  • Teach a unit on the U.S. Senate by using Mississippi History Now lesson plans on other Mississippi U. S. senators and governors.