Tocqueville portrait

Alexis De Tocqueville Tour: Exploring Democracy in America

This site—hosted by C-SPAN—based on a tour of De Tocqueville's route through America features a variety of videos.

  • Boycotting Baubles of Britain

    Created December 22, 2009
    Boycotting Baubles of Britain-boston tea party

    This lesson looks at the changes in British colonial policies and the American resistance through the topic of tea, clothing, and other British goods. Students analyze and interpret key historical artifacts as well as visual and textual sources that shed light on how commodities such as tea became important symbols of personal and political identity during the years leading up to the formal Declaration of Independence in 1776.

    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    NAACP's Anti-Lynching Campaigns: The Quest for Social Justice in the Interwar Years (2 Lessons)

    Created December 22, 2009

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    The Unit

    Overview

    NAACP's Anti-Lynching Campaigns Cu-overview US map

    "3436 Blots of Shame on the United States: 1889-1922." A map prepared for the NAACP in 1922 and published in newspapers. The map graphically details the extent and intensity of lynchings by region and state. A complete version of the map can be found in lesson plan one.

    Credit: “3436 Blots of Shame on the United States: 1889-1922.” A map prepared for the NAACP in 1922 and published in newspapers. The map graphically details the extent and intensity of lynchings by region and state.

    In the twenty-first century, American citizens expect the federal government to protect their civil rights if the states fail to do so. This expectation is a consequence of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and was not engrained in the political and constitutional history of the United States for most of the twentieth century. In fact, most Americans prior in the first half of the twentieth century embraced the notion that police powers (i.e. laws that govern safety, health, welfare, and morals) were reserved to the individual states and saw little, if any, role for the federal government in protecting the health and safety of individuals.

    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) aggressively challenged this prevailing assumption during their anti-lynching campaign. Although NAACP's successful legal assaults on segregation in the 1940s and 1950s tend to overshadow the organization's earlier activities, obtaining federal anti-lynching legislation was their primary goal from 1909 to 1939. Unfortunately, this important chapter in the history of the NAACP has largely been forgotten or, at best, relegated to a footnote in most American history textbooks. In part, this can be explained by the fact that in both the 1920s and the 1930s proposed bills failed to become law. At the same time, much can be learned about how Americans in the interwar years understood the federal system, interpreted the Constitution, and responded to calls for social justice by examining the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign.

    This teaching unit is divided into two lessons: one that examines the NAACP's efforts to get the Republican Party to enact anti-lynching legislation in the early 1920s and one that analyzes the various attempts by New Deal Democrats from 1934 to 1939 to pass a federal anti-lynching bill. Teachers may choose to use only one of the lessons, incorporate both of them into their existing curriculum, or make them the foundation of a thematic unit about social justice in the Interwar Years.

    Guiding Questions

    • Why did the NAACP lobby the federal government to enact anti-lynching legislation?
    • What were the constitutional arguments for and against federal anti-lynching legislation in the interwar period?
    • Why did the legislation fail?

    Learning Objectives

    • Explain the history of the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign in the early 1920s and 1930s.
    • Assess the significance of the failure of Congress to enact anti-lynching legislation and its impact on social justice in the United States.
    • How do President Franklin D. Roosevelt's unwillingness to support federal anti-lynching legislation and Congress's inability to enact a bill help to delineate the limits of liberal reform during the New Deal?
    • Evaluate the reasons for the failure of the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign in the 1930s.
    • Analyze the motives of the opposition to the various anti-lynching bills and the reasons for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's reluctance to support the bills.
    • Why did the NAACP shift its focus from anti-lynching legislation to legal challenges to segregation by the end of the 1930s?

    Preparation Instructions

    Review each lesson plan. Locate and bookmark suggested materials and links from EDSITEment-reviewed websites. Download and print out selected documents and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing

    The Lessons

    • Lesson 1: NAACP’s Anti-Lynching Campaign in the 1920s

      Created December 22, 2009
      Lesson 1: NAACP’s Anti-Lynching Campaign in the 1920s: Blots of shame

      This lesson focuses on the constitutional arguments for and against the enactment of federal anti-lynching legislation in the early 1920s. Students will participate in a simulation game that enacts a fictitious Senate debate of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. As a result of completing this activity, students will gain a better understanding of the federal system, the legislative process, and the difficulties social justice advocates encountered.

    • Lesson 2: NAACP's Anti-Lynching Campaign in the 1930s

      Created July 27, 2010
      NAACP's Anti-Lynching Campaign 1930s: Walter White

      In this lesson students will participate in a role-play activity that has them become members of a newspaper or magazine editorial board preparing a retrospective report about the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign of the 1930s. As the students analyze and synthesize a variety of primary sources, they will gain a better understanding of the reasons for the failure of anti-lynching campaign of the 1930s, the limits of liberal reform during the New Deal, and the NAACP's decision to shift its focus to a legal campaign to end segregation.

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • History and Social Studies > People > African American
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Civil Rights
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Politics and Citizenship
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Reform
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > U.S. Constitution
    Skills
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Cultural analysis
    • Debate
    • Discussion
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Historical analysis
    • Investigating/journalistic writing
    • Logical reasoning
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Map Skills
    • Online research
    • Role-playing/Performance
    • Summarizing
    • Textual analysis
    • Using archival documents
    • Using primary sources
  • Lesson 2: James Madison: The Second National Bank—Powers Not Specified in the Constitution

    James Madison.

    In this lesson, students examine the First and Second National Banks and whether or not such a bank's powers are constitutional or unconstitutional.

  • Jefferson vs. Franklin: Revolutionary Philosophers

    Founding Fathers

    Explore the philosophical contributions that Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson made to the movement for American independence. The lesson introduces students to some of the important precursor documents, such as Franklin's Albany Plan of 1754 and Jefferson's Draft of the Virginia Constitution, that led to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

  • Lesson 3: James Madison: Raising an Army: Balancing the Power of the States and the Federal Government

    James Madison.

    Not everyone in the U.S. supported the War of 1812. What events during Madison's presidency raised constitutional questions? What were the constitutional issues? Where did Madison stand?

  • Lesson 2: The Question of Representation at the 1787 Convention

    Signing of Constitution, by Howard C. Cristy

    When the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention convened in May of 1787 to recommend amendments to the Articles of Confederation, one of the first issues they addressed was the plan for representation in Congress. This lesson will focus on the various plans for representation debated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

  • The Native Americans' Role in the American Revolution: Choosing Sides

    Joseph Brant or Thayendanegea, Mohawk chief

    Native American groups had to choose the loyalist or patriot cause—or somehow maintain a neutral stance during the Revolutionary War. Students will analyze maps, treaties, congressional records, first-hand accounts, and correspondence to determine the different roles assumed by Native Americans in the American Revolution and understand why the various groups formed the alliances they did.

  • Voting Rights for Women: Pro- and Anti-Suffrage

    Suffragists voting in New York, 1917.

    Students research archival material to examine nineteenth and early twentieth century arguments for and against women's suffrage.

  • Lesson 4: James Madison: Internal Improvements Balancing Act: Federal/State, Executive/Legislative

    James Madison.

    There was general agreement at the beginning of the 19th century that the U.S. would greatly benefit from some internal improvements of a national nature, such as a nationwide network of roads and canals. But how should the funds for such projects be raised? Who should be in control of the projects—that is, who should administer them?