Bombardment of Fort Sumter

Crisis at Fort Sumter

An interactive historical simulation and decision-making program that reconstructs the dilemmas of policy formation and decision making in the period between Abraham Lincoln's election in November 1860 and the battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861.

  • 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 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?

  • 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.

  • Lesson 4: The Monroe Doctrine: Whose Doctrine Was It?

    John Quincy Adams played a crucial role in formulating the Monroe Doctrine when  he was Monroe's Secretary of State.

    In what ways did John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson contribute to the formulation of the Monroe Doctrine?

  • Lesson 1: The Origins of "Wilsonianism"

    Created July 16, 2010
    Because of the First World War and its aftermath, Woodrow Wilson fashioned an  ambitious international agenda.

    The influence of President Woodrow Wilson on American foreign policy has been profound and lasting. Using a variety of primary sources, students analyze the origins of the ambitious foreign policy that came to be known as Wilsonianism and compare it with important alternative traditions in American foreign policy.

  • Lesson 1: From the President's Lips: The Concerns that Led to the Sedition (and Alien) Act

    John Adams.

    What conditions provided the impetus for the Sedition Act? Partisan animosity was strong during Adams's presidency. The first two political parties in the U.S. were in their infancy—the Federalists, to which the majority of members of Congress belonged, and the Democratic-Republicans, led by former vice-president Thomas Jefferson and four-term Congressman James Madison, who had left the House in 1796.

  • Lesson 2: President Madison's 1812 War Message: A Documentary Review

    The battle between the American warship U.S.S. Chesapeake (right) and the British warship H.M.S. Leopard (left)

    Students examine examples of primary documents (and some secondary accounts) that illuminate key points in President Madison's letter. The lesson identifies 10 statements in the message about which students are likely to have questions, and it provides relevant materials. If students raise questions about other sections of the letter, class members may be able to locate pertinent documents on their own, once they become familiar with some of the sources available in the records of Congress.

  • Lesson 1: The Monroe Doctrine: U.S. Foreign Affairs (circa 1782–1823) and James Monroe

    Portrait of James Monroe, fifth President of the United States, by Gilbert  Stuart.

    What was the Monroe Doctrine? What principles of foreign policy did this Doctrine establish? What were the significant events in U.S. diplomacy before 1823? What diplomatic roles had James Monroe played before he became president? Here, a careful examination of the document anticipates what is to come.

  • The Great War: Evaluating the Treaty of Versailles

    U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and French Premier Georges Clemenceau

    Was the Treaty of Versailles, which formally concluded World War I, a legitimate attempt by the victorious powers to prevent further conflict, or did it place an unfair burden on Germany? This lesson helps students respond to the question in an informed manner. Activities involve primary sources, maps, and other supporting documents related to the peace process and its reception by the German public and German politicians.