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Learning outcomes

Students will

  • learn about the arguments of both the southern and northern positions preceding the Civil War.
  • develop an understanding of point-of-view and bias found in primary source documents.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

One day

Technology resources

  • Computer lab or individual student computers
  • Access to Documenting the American South resources
  • Copies of the Perspectives on the Civil War handout — one per student
  • Pencils/pens

Pre-activities

Have students read a brief introduction to First Person Narratives of the American South: About this Project before beginning their search of the documents. This overview explains the purposes of the collection as well as its main themes.

Activities

  1. Have all students read Learn More about this title summary and Chapter 2 (p. 11-25) of Rose O’Neal Greenhow: Confederate Spy which provides information about her and her position on the Civil War.
  2. Ask students to complete the “Perspectives on the Civil War” handout (Word Doc) by first writing about Greenhow’s text and then adding information from other documents in the digital library.
  3. Allow students to browse the collection of first-person narratives to find other sources that provide relevant perspectives on the Civil War. Be sure to discuss in advance strategies for identifying alternative primary sources and skimming them for relevant information. For instance, a northern perspective might present a very different opinion on the war. Documents set around the time of the war, 1860-1865 would most likely deal with the subject of causes of the war.

Assessment

Assess students based on completion of the “Perspectives on the Civil War” sheet which includes a section for students to write their own history of the beginning of the war.

Supplemental information

Comments

This lesson is designed for upper-level students and could be used to help Advanced Placement students develop the skills necessary for completion of Document-Based Questions.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 11-12
          • 11-12.LH.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
          • 11-12.LH.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • United States History I

        • USH.H.1 Apply the four interconnected dimensions of historical thinking to the United States History Essential Standards in order to understand the creation and development of the United States over time. USH.H.1.1 Use Chronological thinking to: Identify the...
        • USH.H.2 Analyze key political, economic and social turning points in United States History using historical thinking. USH.H.2.1 Analyze key political, economic, and social turning points from colonization through Reconstruction in terms of causes and effects...
        • USH.H.4 Analyze how conflict and compromise have shaped politics, economics and culture in the United States. USH.H.4.1 Analyze the political issues and conflicts that impacted the United States through Reconstruction and the compromises that resulted (e.g.,...
        • USH.H.7 Understand the impact of war on American politics, economics, society and culture. USH.H.7.1 Explain the impact of wars on American politics through Reconstruction (e.g., Issues of taxation without representation, Proclamation of 1763, Proclamation...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 11–12 — United States History

  • Goal 3: Crisis, Civil War, and Reconstruction (1848-1877) - The learner will analyze the issues that led to the Civil War, the effects of the war, and the impact of Reconstruction on the nation.
    • Objective 3.02: Analyze and assess the causes of the Civil War.