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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

NEH Landmarks of American History


July 2008

Lesson Plan

Campaign Songs


This lesson is designed for an 8 th grade American History class. It is as part of a unit on the election of 1860. The students will look at song used by Lincoln's supporters during the election 1860, "Lincoln and Liberty" as collected by Carl Sandburg in the book "The American Songbag." They will explain the images used in the song, brainstorm a list of other images and ideas that could be in a campaign song for Lincoln (pro or anti). Then they will write their own short campaign verse using some of the images they have brainstormed. Then they will complete the same process for the current campaign.

Kansas State Standards:

History Standard: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of significant individuals, groups, ideas, events, eras, and developments in the history of Kansas, the United States, and the world, utilizing essential analytical and research skills.

Benchmark 2 : The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and the causes and effects of the Civil War.


3.▲(K) retraces events that led to sectionalism and secession prior to

the Civil War (e.g., Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850,

Kansas-Nebraska Act-Popular Sovereignty, Uncle Tom's Cabin).

4. (A) explains the issues that led to the Civil War (e.g., slavery,

economics, and state's rights).

6. (A) compares and contrasts various points of views during the Civil

War era (e.g., abolitionists vs. slaveholders, Robert E. Lee vs.

Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln vs. Jefferson Davis, and

Harriett Beecher Stowe vs. Mary Chestnut).


Copy of the song "Lincoln and Liberty" (attached at end)

Recording of the song by Dan Zanes, from the album "Parades and Panoramas", Festival Five Records, 2004.


After talking about the election of 1860, explaining that there were four sectional candidates, comparing and contrasting elections in the 1860 with elections today (no mass advertising, candidates refraining from campaign (allowing others to speak for them)) and pointing out that many objects that we associate with campaigns, buttons, posters, and other souvenirs were the same then as today. Play the song "Lincoln and Liberty." Pass out sheet with the words, lead class discussion to complete the sheet. Students break up into groups of three and brainstorm other ideas about Lincoln that would be good for a campaign song. Ideas could include his physical appearance, his opposition to slavery, his stance on the Union, his past in New Salem, etc. After sharing their ideas, students will be required to compose a four line stanza about Lincoln. The stanza does not have to have a melody, and it does not have to be sung. Each student should write an individual stanza. Students will then share their stanzas with their group. Students will then brainstorm ideas that would be good for a campaign song about either John McCain or Barack Obama. After sharing their brainstorming, students should compose a four line stanza about the chosen candidate.


After all of the songs have been composed and shared within the small group, the group will report out to the entire class their favorite stanzas. Students would then turn in written copies of their stanzas, or alternately, students could write their songs on posterboard and post them in the classroom.

Lincoln and Liberty

From "The American Songbag"

Collected by Carl Sandburg

Hurrah for the choice of the nation!

Our chieftain so brave and so true;

We'll go for the great reformation,

For Lincoln and Liberty too.

We'll go for the son of Kentucky,

The hero of Hoosierdom through;

The pride of the Suckers so lucky,

For Lincoln and Liberty too.

They'll find what by felling and mauling,

Our rail-maker statesman can do;

For the people are everywhere calling

For Lincoln and Liberty too.

Then up with our banner so glorious,

The star-spangled red, white and blue,

We'll fight till our banner is victorious,

For Lincoln and Liberty too.

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