Lesson 3: A Debate Against Slavery

One of the great tragedies of American history was the treatment of African-Americans. African slaves arrived with some of the earliest European settlers, and slavery had been a centuries-old institution in America by the 1850s.

Civil War, American
The chief and immediate cause of the war was slavery. Southern states, including the 11 states that formed the Confederacy, depended on slavery to support their economy. Southerners used slave labor to produce crops, especially cotton. Although slavery was illegal in the Northern states, only a small proportion of Northerners actively opposed it.

—Source: "Civil War, American." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000

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

At the end of this lesson plan students will be able to

Understand the conflict between North and South over the issue of slavery

Be familiar wit the arguments for and against slavery, and the history of abolitionist sentiment in America

Be familiar with the working and living conditions for slaves

Be familiar with the working and living conditions for wage workers in the North

Be aware of the extent, geographic and demographic, of slavery.