Teach PA History
Crossing the Delaware: A Visual Myth or Reality?
What to Know
Teaching Time
One 50-minute session
Grade Level
Middle School
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • History
Historical Period
  • New Nation - 1761-1800
Emanuel Leutze's painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, will be analyzed for its historical inaccuracies in this middle-school-level lesson. Emanuel Leutze's painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, is a well-known portrayal of the event during the American Revolution in Pennsylvania. The daring, famous maneuver directed by General Washington in 1776 was painted by Leutze in 1851. While Leutze's painting remains a symbol of the American spirit, it does contain several historical inaccuracies. Students will analyze the painting then compare the accuracy of the painting to a textbook description of the event of Washington's crossing. Students will demonstrate their analysis of the event and the painting by developing a persuasive argument supporting or opposing the public display of the Leutze's painting in the school.


Students will be able to: 1. Analyze Emanuel Leutze's painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware. 2. Evaluate the historical accuracy of Leutze's painting. 3. Explain the symbolic importance of Washington Crossing the Delaware.

Standards Alignment

  • Arts and Humanities

    9.2.8. D. Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective.
    9.2.8. E. Analyze how historical events and culture impacts forms, techniques and purposes of works in the arts.

  • History

    8.1.9. B. Analyze and interpret historical sources.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.4.8. C. Write persuasive pieces.
    1.6.8. A. Listen to others.
    1.6.8. D. Contribute to discussions.

Back to Top