• Lesson 2: The Battles of the Civil War

    Created July 17, 2010
    "A Harvest of Death."

    Through the use of maps and original documents, this lesson will focus on the key battles of the Civil War, Gettysburg and Vicksburg and show how the battles contributed to its outcome. It will also examine the "total war" strategy of General Sherman, and the role of naval warfare in bringing about a Union victory.

  • Lesson 3: The Gettysburg Address (1863)—Defining the American Union

    Photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg dedication. Lincoln is highlighted in this image  in the middle of the crowd at the dais.

    This lesson will examine the most famous speech in American history to understand how Lincoln turned a perfunctory eulogy at a cemetery dedication into a concise and profound meditation on the meaning of the Civil War and American union.

  • Lesson 1: Fragment on the Constitution and Union (1861)—The Purpose of the American Union

    Library of  Congress image of 1860 campaign illustration of Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln

    How did Abraham Lincoln understand the relationship between principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? In this lesson students will examine Lincoln's "Fragment on the Constitution and Union" a brief but insightful reflection on the importance of the ideal of individual liberty to the constitutional structure and operation of the American union written in the last days of December 1860 when his election as president had brought the crisis of the American "house divided" to a head.

  • Lesson 3: African-Americans and the New Deal's Civilian Conservation Corps

    Barracks Door, Civilian Conservation Corps.

    The Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal recovery and relief program provided more than a quarter of a million young black men with jobs during the Depression. By examining primary source documents students analyze the impact of this program on race relations in America and assess the role played by the New Deal in changing them.

  • Romare Bearden's "The Dove"—A Meeting of Vision and Sound

    Romare Bearden, (1911–1988)

    By examining The Dove by artist Romare Bearden, students will learn to appreciate the artistic and intellectual achievement of Black artists in America in the first half of the 20th century. By listening to music, students will see how art and music intersect to tell us a story. They will relate that story to their own lives.

  • Lesson 1: The Battle Over Reconstruction: The Aftermath of War

    President Andrew Johnson presided over the early days of Reconstruction.

    This lesson covers two essential aspects of Reconstruction: the condition of the southern states at the close of the war and Lincoln’s plan for restoring them to the Union. In examining the conditions of the southern states, students consider both the physical conditions (i.e., the impact of the devastation of war) and the political condition of these states (i.e., what was the proper relationship between southern states and the Union upon their surrender at Appomattox?)

    Lesson Plans: Grades 6-8
    Curriculum Unit

    Life in the North and South 1847–1861: Before Brother Fought Brother (5 Lessons)

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    Overview

    More Americans lost their lives in the Civil War than in any other conflict. How did the United States arrive at a point at which the South seceded and some families were so fractured that brother fought brother?

    A complex series of events led to the Civil War. The lessons in this unit are designed to help students develop a foundation on which to understand the basic disagreements between North and South. Through the investigation of primary source documents —photographs, census information and other archival documents—students gain an appreciation of everyday life in the North and South, changes occurring in the lives of ordinary Americans, and some of the major social and economic issues of the years before the Civil War.

    Guiding Questions

    • What differences existed between ordinary Americans living in the North and those living in the South in the years before the Civil War?
    • What important issues are reflected in the differences between life in the North and the South?
    • What kinds of changes were taking place in the United States at the time?

    Learning Objectives

    • List three differences and three similarities between life in the North and the South in the years before the Civil War.
    • Discuss how these differences contributed to serious disagreements between the North and South.

    Preparation Instructions

    The Civil War erupted after a long history of compromises and sectional debates over representation, federalism, tariffs and territories. Though many of the political differences are beyond the scope of the intermediate curriculum, students can use their analysis of archival documents to begin to appreciate the differences between the North and South and the changes afoot in the United States that contributed to the developing conflict.

    Before you begin to teach this unit, review the suggested activities and familiarize yourself with the websites involved. Select, download and duplicate, as necessary, any documents you want the class to use.

    For the census activity in Lesson 3, either the teacher or students will need to keep a calculator at hand.

    You may wish to provide students with a copy of the Document Analysis Worksheet, available through the EDSITEment resource The Digital Classroom, to guide them as they review the documents in this unit.

    The purpose of this lesson is to prepare students with background information for understanding the causes of the Civil War. You can find information on the causes of the Civil War, accessible through a link from the EDSITEment resource The Internet Public Library.

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    6-8

    Subject Areas
    • History and Social Studies > People > African American
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > AP US History
    • History and Social Studies
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Civil Rights
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Demographic Changes
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
    • History and Social Studies > World > The Modern World (1500 CE-Present)
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Economic Transformation
    • History and Social Studies > People > Other
    • History and Social Studies > People > Women
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Politics and Citizenship
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Slavery
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > U.S. Constitution
    Skills
    • Compare and contrast
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Debate
    • Discussion
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Historical analysis
    • Interpretation
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Textual analysis
    • Using primary sources
    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    From Courage to Freedom: Frederick Douglass's 1845 Autobiography (3 Lessons)

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    Overview

    In 1845 Frederick Douglass published what was to be the first of his three autobiographies: the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. As the title suggests, Douglass wished not only to highlight the irony that a land founded on freedom would permit slavery to exist within its midst, but also to establish that he, an American slave with no formal education, was the sole author of the work. Written in the years following his 1838 escape from his Maryland slaveholder, the narrative reveals numerous instances of Douglass's courage on his journey from slave to free man. Douglass himself punctuates this route by sharing with the reader his tenacious and ingenious efforts at learning how to read and write, his risky physical opposition to a "nigger-breaker," and his escape to New York. These courageous acts pale, however, beside his most overt and possibly dangerous act: the publishing of his autobiography before his freedom had been purchased. Indeed, in 1845 Douglass was still legally a slave; at any time he could have been betrayed, hunted down, captured and returned to his master who, more than likely, would have sold Douglass further down South as punishment. It was not until 1847, while Douglass was traveling and lecturing in England that friends bought his freedom. For Douglass, however, his personal declaration of freedom and independence occurred two years earlier with his Narrative.

    The Narrative in itself is remarkable for the views on slavery and slaveholders that Douglass bravely presents. First, Douglass asserts his humanity in the face of the dehumanizing institution of slavery. In doing so, he sets an example to other slaves to insist upon their humanity, and he persuades his reading audience to acknowledge this humanity, too. He claims as his intellectual birthright the opportunity to learn to read and write. He refuses to accept anything less than his own physical, spiritual, and intellectual freedom. Moreover, he never hesitates to criticize directly—often with withering irony—those who uphold slavery and those who prefer a romanticized version of it. Pitilessly, Douglass offers the reader a first-hand account of the pain, humiliation and brutality of the South's "peculiar institution." His is not an account of moonlight, magnolias, and happily singing workers. Instead, he points out the cruelty and the corrupting influence of power not only on the victim, but also on the perpetrator—the slave holder. Lastly, Douglass's Narrative is a courageous work because it confronts the misuse of Christianity in perpetuating the widely held belief in the slave owner's "God-given" right to own or sell other human beings.

    In this curriculum unit, students will read Douglass's narrative with particular attention devoted to chapters 1, 2, 6, 7, 9, and 10. They will analyze Douglass's vivid first-hand accounts of the lives of slaves and the behavior of slave owners to see how he successfully contrasts reality with romanticism and powerfully uses imagery, irony, connotative and denotative language, strong active verbs, repetition, and rhetorical appeals to persuade the reader of slavery's evil. Students will also identify and discuss Douglass's acts of physical and intellectual courage on his journey towards freedom.

    Guiding Questions

    • How does Frederick Douglass's skilled use of language paint a realistic portrait of slavery?
    • How successful is Douglass in persuading the reader of the evils that slavery inflicts on both slave and slaveholder alike?

    Learning Objectives

    • Analyze and understand a specific type of historical and literary primary document, the slave narrative/autobiography.
    • Recognize and explain the use and effectiveness of precise word choice, imagery, irony, and rhetorical appeals.
    • Learn to look for and contrast instances of reality and romanticized myth by using the slave narrative as a source for historical study.

    Preparation Instructions

    • Locate Douglass's 1845 Narrative at the EDSITEment-reviewed Library of Congress American Memory Project
    • Familiarize yourself with the history of slave narratives by reading William L. Andrews' "An Introduction to the Slave Narrative" found at the EDSITEment-reviewed UNC Chapel Hill's Documenting the American South website. This essay explains the purpose of the slave narrative as "to enlighten white readers about both the realities of slavery as an institution and the humanity of black people as individuals deserving of full human rights." The essay touches upon the popularity of the narratives before the Civil War and also notes specific characteristic traits of the slave narrative—traits which can easily be seen in Douglass's narrative. For example, the slave narrator portrays the plight of slaves as "a kind of hell on earth." "Hope contends with despair" and then "impelled by faith in God and a commitment to liberty and human dignity comparable to that of America's Founding Fathers," the slave narrator finds sanctuary and freedom in the North. Andrews's essay concludes by noting the influence of slave narratives upon modern black autobiography.
    • Obtain a concise overview of Douglass's life at the EDSITEment-reviewed National Park Service Links to the Past: American Visionaries—Frederick Douglass website. The site offers a complete overview of Douglass's life, whereas the 1845 Narrative itself ends with Douglass's freedom.
    • The EDSITEment-reviewed website Silva Rhetoricae has definitions and examples of the following persuasive appeals and rhetorical devices (click on the word to see in-depth definitions and examples):
      • Persuasive Appeals (overview)
      • Logos: appeal to reason
      • Ethos: appeal to one's own character
      • Pathos: appeal to emotion
      • Irony
      • Repetition (repetitio)

        Other terms that might be of use in the conversation include imagery, connotation, and denotation. Definitions and examples are available both at Wikipedia and Dictionary.com, available via the EDSITEment-reviewed Internet Public Library:
      • Imagery: (Wikipedia) (Dictionary.com)
      • Denotation—generally, the literal meaning of a word: (Wikipedia) (Dictionary.com)
      • Connotation—generally, the possible supplementary, implied meanings behind a literal meaning (Wikipedia) (Dictionary.com)
      • Wikipedia provides the following examples to describe the difference between Denotation and Connotation:
        • For example, the word "city" connotes the attributes of largeness, populousness. It denotes individual objects such as London, New York, Paris.
        • For example, a stubborn person may be described as being either strong-willed or pig-headed. Although these have the same literal meaning (i.e. stubborn), strong-willed connotes admiration for someone's convictions, while pig-headed connotes frustration in dealing with someone.

          Teachers may want to create a handout or a power point file for students with definitions and examples of persuasive appeals, repetition, irony, imagery, connotative and denotative language as found at these sites.
      Since Douglass does use the "n-word"—nigger—at times in his narrative, teachers may want to alert their students to that fact and perhaps give them some historical and cultural context for the word. When reading aloud, students should be given the option to say or not say the word—if they should encounter it—as they please. The classroom must be a comfortable place for all if Douglass's narrative is to be studied well and appreciated.
    • Read John Picker's introduction to spirituals and the essay on spirituals by Thomas Wentworth Higginson's essay "Negro Spirituals" found at the EDSITEment-reviewed American Studies at the University of Virginia For a concise history of spirituals see also www.negrospirituals.com
    • To extend the lesson on spirituals, review the EDSITEment lesson plan Spirituals, which explores how spirituals play a role in African-American history, from the Underground Railroad to the Civil Rights Movement.

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • History and Social Studies > People > African American
    • Literature and Language Arts > Place > American
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Civil Rights
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Biography
    • Literature and Language Arts > Genre > Essay
    Skills
    • Compare and contrast
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Discussion
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Historical analysis
    • Interpretation
    • Literary analysis
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Online research
    • Writing skills
    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    The Growing Crisis of Sectionalism in Antebellum America: A House Dividing (4 Lessons)

    Created July 17, 2010

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    Overview

    Our political problem now is “Can we, as a nation, continue together permanently—forever—half slave, and half free?” The problem is too mighty for me. May God, in his mercy, superintend the solution.

    —Abraham Lincoln to George Robertson, August 15, 1855

    In this unit, students will trace the development of sectionalism in the United States as it was driven by the growing dependence upon, and defense of, black slavery in the southern states. Initially seen as contrary to freedom but tolerated in order to produce the U.S. Constitution, by the 1830s the "peculiar institution" found advocates who saw it as a "positive good." Its expansion into Missouri, southern outrage over federal tariffs, and westward expansion into new territory produced a volatile and persistent debate over slavery that increasingly threatened to divide the American union. By 1860, the nation found an old Democratic Party split over the right to extend slavery into federal territory, and a new Republican Party nominating an anti-slavery, though not abolitionist, president. When Abraham Lincoln's election produced no national consensus to settle the matter of slavery's future, a southern "secession" sealed the fate of the Union.

    What characterized the debates over American slavery and the power of the federal government for the first half of the 19th century? How did regional economies and political events produce a widening split between free and slaveholding states in antebellum America? Who were the key figures and what were their arguments regarding the legitimacy of slavery and the proper role of the national government in resolving its future in the American republic? This unit of study will equip students to answer these questions through the use of interactive maps, primary texts, and comparative biographies.

    Guiding Questions

    • How did the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Nullification Crisis a decade later illustrate the widening divide between northern and southern states?
    • What were the leading arguments against slavery in the antebellum era and how did slaveholders defend the "peculiar institution"?
    • How did Senator Stephen Douglas try to reduce the growing sectionalism of America over the slavery controversy through the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and its policy of popular sovereignty?
    • In the 1860 presidential election, what political options regarding the spread of slavery did the American people face, and how did Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party differ from advocates of immediate abolition, popular sovereignty, and national slavery?

    Learning Objectives

    Upon completing the lessons in this unit, students should be able to do the following:

    • use maps of the 1820 Missouri Compromise and the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act to understand political and economic changes in the U.S. and why those changes provoked a debate over the expansion of slavery in America
    • list the main provisions of the 1820 Missouri Compromise and 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act
    • highlight the basic economic differences between the commerce of the North and the South
    • explain John Calhoun's theory of nullification, Andrew Jackson's view of national sovereignty, Stephen Douglas's policy of popular sovereignty, and Lincoln's understanding of constitutional self-government
    • identify influential opponents and defenders of American slavery
    • explain the reasons given for and against the morality and legitimacy of slavery under the U.S. Constitution
    • articulate the different solutions to the controversy over slavery in the territories proposed by Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and William Lowndes Yancey
    • distinguish the priorities of the Republican Party from those of the two factions of the Democratic Party and the Constitutional Union Party during the 1860 election
    • explain how the differing views regarding slavery in the territories eventually produced a southern secession and a civil war
    • discuss whether or not the American Civil War was an avoidable war or "an irrepressible conflict"

    Preparation Instructions

    Review each lesson plan. Locate and bookmark suggested materials and other useful websites. Download and print out documents you will use and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing.

    Download the blackline masters for this lesson, available here as a PDF. Print out and make an appropriate number of copies of any handouts you plan to use in class.

    Each activity in this unit of study is designed for use as a stand-alone lesson, comprising three forty-five minute class periods. Taken all together, the lessons provide an overview of the causes of sectionalism that led to the American Civil War. Since available time and curriculum needs vary by classroom, the following guidelines for use are provided:

    Another approach you can use is to skim each lesson plan to see what specific activities each offers and choose only those that suit specific course objectives and content. Each lesson plan indicates how best to streamline that lesson's content and will suggest essential versus more rigorous treatment of a given subject.

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • History and Social Studies > People > African American
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > AP US History
    • History and Social Studies
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Civil Rights
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Demographic Changes
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Economic Transformation
    • History and Social Studies > People > Other
    • History and Social Studies > People > Women
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Politics and Citizenship
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Reform
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Slavery
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > U.S. Constitution
    Skills
    • Compare and contrast
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Debate
    • Discussion
    • Essay writing
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Gathering, classifying and interpreting written, oral and visual information
    • Historical analysis
    • Interpretation
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Map Skills
    • Online research
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Using primary sources
    • Visual analysis
    • Writing skills
    Lesson Plans: Grades 9-12
    Curriculum Unit

    Religion in 18th Century America (3 Lessons)

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    Overview

    The traditional religions of Great Britain's North American colonies—Puritanism in New England and Anglicanism farther south—had difficulty maintaining their holds over the growing population. The main reason for this was that the frontier kept pushing further west, and the building of churches almost never kept up with this westward movement. This did not, however, result in a wholesale decline in religiosity among Americans. In fact, the most significant religious development of 18th century America took place along the frontier, in the form of the Great Awakening (often called the "First Great Awakening" to distinguish it from a similar movement that occurred in the first half of the 19th century).

    The First Great Awakening was largely the work of itinerant preachers such as John Wesley and George Whitefield, who addressed huge audiences both in the major cities and in remote frontier villages. In contrast to the older faiths, these preachers preached a doctrine that deemphasized traditional church structure, ceremony, and even clergy. Relying heavily on emotional appeals, which remain a feature of modern-day "tent revivals," they stressed the importance of a personal relationship with God and of the responsibility to God that came along with it. This movement, thanks in particular to its ministry to those on the frontier, fundamentally changed the religious landscape of English America. Membership in the older, established sects such as Puritan Congregationalism and Anglicanism fell into decline, while the newer evangelical sects—Presbyterians in the North, Baptists and Methodists further south—surged in size and influence. By the time of the American Revolution a majority—perhaps as many as 80 percent of the population—identified with the new faiths.

    The movement also had a powerful political dimension, particularly in the southern colonies. The Anglican faith had long nurtured the old ties between the colonies and the Mother Country. Baptists and Methodists, however, felt no such connection. Moreover, as the new sects emphasized personal belief and action over traditional church structures, they were less willing than their older counterparts to accept America's continued submission to Great Britain. As a result, scriptural defenses of the cause of independence could be heard coming from growing numbers of preachers throughout the colonies.

    Of course, the new movement did not carry all before it. Traditional Anglicanism still remained powerful, particularly in the coastal cities of the southern colonies, and it was mainly from this sect that the Loyalist cause during the Revolution drew its strength. In addition, the First Great Awakening had little impact on sects such as the Quakers, who, as pacifists, refused to participate in the Revolution at all. Moreover, it should be noted that not all of the revolutionaries were driven by religious motives; such prominent patriots as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, for example, were deeply skeptical of all organized religion (although they certainly used scripture-based arguments), and had little but disdain for the emotional fervor of the evangelicals. Nevertheless the First Great Awakening had a dramatic effect on early America, not only altering its religious makeup, but helping to pave the way for the nation's independence.

    This curriculum unit will, through the use of primary documents, introduce students to the First Great Awakening, as well as to the ways in which religious-based arguments were used both in support of and against the American Revolution.

    Guiding Questions

    • What was the First Great Awakening and how did it affect religious belief in Colonial America?
    • How did religion affect arguments justifying American independence?
    • How did the leaders of the American Revolution employ religion to support the war effort?
    • How did different religions react to Revolution?

    Learning Objectives

    • Identify when and where the First Great Awakening took place
    • Explain the characteristics of religious belief associated with the First Great Awakening
    • Identify and discuss the ideas of Jonathan Edwards, one of the leading preachers associated with the First Great Awakening
    • Discuss how colonial Americans perceived the First Great Awakening and how it affected the lives of both colonial Americans and Native Americans
    • Analyze Jonathan Mayhew's "A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers" and discuss how this sermon served to support the revolution
    • Explain how Thomas Paine's Common Sense argues that the Bible does not support monarchy
    • Identify the references to a higher power in the Declaration of Independence and discuss why they might have been included
    • Discuss and analyze how the leaders of the American Revolution employed religion in the war effort
    • Explain the particular problem the Revolutionary War posed for Anglican clergy.
    • Discuss how Anglican "loyalists" reacted to the Revolutionary War
    • Discuss and debate how General George Washington dealt with Quaker pacifism during the Revolutionary War.

    Preparation Instructions

    Review the lesson plan. Locate and bookmark suggested materials and links from EDSITEment-reviewed websites used in this lesson. Download and print out selected documents and duplicate copies as necessary for student viewing. Alternatively, excerpted versions of these documents are available as part of the downloadable PDF.

    Download the Text Document for this lesson, available here as a PDF. This file contains excerpted versions of the documents used in all three activities, as well as questions for students to answer. Print out and make an appropriate number of copies of the handouts you plan to use in class.

    Analyzing primary sources:

    If your students lack experience in dealing with primary sources, you might use one or more preliminary exercises to help them develop these skills. The Learning Page at the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress includes a set of such activities. Another useful resource is the Digital Classroom of the National Archives, which features a set of Document Analysis Worksheets.

    The Lessons

    The Basics

    Grade Level

    9-12

    Subject Areas
    • History and Social Studies > People > African American
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > AP US History
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Civil Rights
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Culture
    • History and Social Studies > U.S. > Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
    • History and Social Studies > Place > The Americas
    • Literature and Language Arts > Place > Modern World
    • History and Social Studies > People > Native American
    • History and Social Studies > World > The Modern World (1500 CE-Present)
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Religion
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > Slavery
    • History and Social Studies > Themes > U.S. Constitution
    Skills
    • Compare and contrast
    • Critical analysis
    • Critical thinking
    • Debate
    • Discussion
    • Essay writing
    • Evaluating arguments
    • Historical analysis
    • Internet skills
    • Interpretation
    • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • Online research
    • Representing ideas and information orally, graphically and in writing
    • Textual analysis
    • Using primary sources
    • Writing skills