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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

Lincoln in New Salem

11 th Grade

U.S. History

Students will gain an understanding of Abraham Lincoln's experience in New Salem, IL and learn about the development of Lincoln's political career.


"Lincoln's New Salem 1830-1837" Essay found at

New Salem Virtual Tour found at


Assign students to read the Essay "Lincoln's New Salem 1830-1837."

Class Discussion

Use the following questions to help guide the class in a large group discussion of the assigned reading.

  • When and how did Lincoln first come to the attention of the people in New Salem?
  • What role did Denton Offutt play?
  • What role did Lincoln play in the Black Hawk War?
  • How did the Black Hawk War impact Lincoln's political career?
  • In the campaign of 1832, what were three political issues favored by Lincoln?
  • What do these political stances say about Lincoln's political beliefs?
  • What enterprise did Lincoln begin in January 1833? How did this turn out?
  • Describe Lincoln as Postmaster of New Salem.
  • How did Lincoln obtain his status as a lawyer in Illinois?
  • When and why did Lincoln leave New Salem?
  • What conclusions, or generalities, about Lincoln can you draw from this essay?

Virtual Tour

For this web tour, students will need to visit the Lincoln's New Salem web site at To open the virtual tour, click on the Tour button at the top of the page. Students should answer the following questions.

  • Who were hosted in the Miller-Keiso house while visiting New Salem?
  • What occupation did Henry Onstot hold?
  • Who held the license to operate the New Salem ferry?
  • Who served as the schoolmaster of New Salem?
  • What is a "blab" school?
  • What spiritual experience did Mrs. Johnson often have?
  • From whom did Berry and Lincoln buy their store?
  • Where did Peter Lurkin move to in 1832?
  • Who led the temperance society of New Salem?
  • What purpose did the tavern serve?
  • Who bought the mill in 1832?
  • What was the main stock of Clary's store?
  • What second function did the Hill-McNeill store serve?
  • Who first owned Dr. Regnier's office?
  • What method powered the Carding Mill?
  • What occupation did Martin Waddell have?
  • Who was the blacksmith in New Salem?

After reviewing the answers with the students, ask them to describe life in New Salem.


After completing the reading of "Lincoln's New Salem 1830-1837" and taking the virtual tour of New Salem, assign the students the following essay question.

Describe Lincoln's experience in New Salem. How did his time in New Salem affect and impact Abraham Lincoln? In particular, how did this experience shape Lincoln's political future?

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