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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

Cabinet Conundrum

Grade Level: 7 th-12 th

Subject: History

Time Frame: Two 50 minute class periods

Number of Students: 20-30 students

Understanding the Goal of the Lesson:

Students will analyze Lincoln's cabinet members and determine what factors or principles guided each in their support or opposition to the creation of West Virginia.

Primary Source Understanding Goal:

Original letters from cabinet member to Lincoln, which can be viewed at the Library of Congress website.

Illinois Standards-Essential Knowledge and Skills:

14.C.5 Analyze the consequences of participation and non-participation in the electoral process (e.g., women's suffrage, voter registration, effects of media).

14.F.4a Determine the historical events and processes that brought about changes in United States political ideas and traditions (e.g., the New Deal, Civil War).

16.A.4a Analyze and report historical events to determine cause-and-effect relationships.

16.A.5a Analyze historical and contemporary developments using methods of historical inquiry (pose questions, collect and analyze data, make and support inferences with evidence, report findings).

16.A.4b Compare competing historical interpretations of an event.

16.B.5a (US) Describe how modern political positions are affected by differences in ideologies and viewpoints that have developed over time (e.g., political parties' positions on government intervention in the economy).

16.D.4a (US) Describe the immediate and long-range social impacts of slavery.

16.D.4b (US) Describe unintended social consequences of political events in United States history (e.g., Civil War/emancipation, National Defense Highway Act/decline of inner cities, Vietnam War/anti-government activity).


Pens/pencil, computer, internet access, and paper


"Abraham Lincoln Papers" which can be found at


The students need to have a basic understanding of National Supremacy, the reorganization of Virginia, and the 37 th and 38 th U.S. Congress in regards to Virginia.

Names to know: Abraham Lincoln, Edwin Stanton, Montgomery Blair, Edward Bates, Gideon Welles, William Seward, and Salmon Chase.

Preparation of Learning Environment:

The students will be organized into groups of six.

Instructional Plan:

1. The teacher will begin with a presentation on National Supremacy.

2. Next, there will be a class discussion of the Civil War and the principle that states may not secede, acknowledging the conundrum that was the Virginia/West Virginia situation.

3. Students will be then placed in groups of six and assigned a member of Lincoln's cabinet of 1862.

4. Students will establish their cabinet members' home state, position in cabinet, and position (support or opposition) to the creation of West Virginia.

5. Students will exhibit their cabinet members' position in a two page essay.


1. The teacher will provide relevant letters from Library of Congress with the sections highlighted, which is pertinent to the assignment, for students with special learning needs.

2. The special education department will have a copy of all applicable documents used to complete the assignment.

Extension Activities:

Extra Credit may be offered to students who complete a map showing the counties of Virginia trying to form Kanawha.


Class discussion of each cabinet member's position and Lincoln's final decision.

Student Assessment:

Research Report : Cabinet Conundrum

Teacher Name:

Student Name: ________________________________________






Home State

Student established state of origin for cabinet member.

Student does not identify or identifies state of origin incorrectly.

Position on Succession of West Virginia

Student correctly identifies the position of the member.

Student has correct facts, but incorrectly identifies support or opposition.

Student has incorrect facts, but includes correct position.

Student does not include correct facts or position.

Cabinet Position

Student correctly identifies the position of the member.

Student does not correctly identify the cabinet position.

Use of Sources

Student uses Library of Congress and/or other primary sources.

Student gathers correct information, but uses only secondary sources.

Student does not cite source or sources.

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