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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

The Presidential Election of 1860

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Length: 2 Weeks Grade Level: 9-12 Group Size: 25-30 Date: 7-14-08

Summary: This lesson plan focuses on the election of 1860, but the activities are divided into three parts: pre-election, election, and post-election. It may be utilized as a unit lesson or each part independently. Part I analyzes selections of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. An online visit is made to the Springfield home of Abraham Lincoln where he accepts the Republican Presidential nomination. Part II addresses the election including campaign strategies and a geographic analysis of the results. Part III explains the Electoral College, the outcome of the election of 1860 and discusses the legality of southern secession.

Part I: Pre-Election

Objectives :

  • After reading selected pages from the Lincoln-Douglas debates, students analyze Lincoln's stance on majority rule and minority rights as it applies to the state's rights and slavery.
  • Students compare and contrast Lincoln's Greek-Revival style cottage where he accepted the Presidential nomination and launched his campaign, with Thomas Jefferson's Neo-classical Monticello.
  • Students analyze two 1850 political campaign cartoons.
  • Students create an original political cartoon about a current presidential candidate, or a current event.


  • Selected readings from the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 found at (The 4 th Debate Part I located at

  • A photo tour of the Lincoln Home at

  • A tour of Monticello at

  • The handout "Monticello: The Home of Thomas Jefferson." (Attachment I)
  • Copies of political cartoons about the election of 1860 found at

  • The handout "Analyzing Political Cartoons" (Attachment II)
  • Poster board, drawing paper, markers, colored pencils, gluesticks, scissors, pencils and/or black India ink and tipped pens.

Standards: The activities in this lesson plan may fulfill the requirements for the following Illinois State Learning Standards: 14.A.5, 14.D.4, 14.F.5, 16.D.4b (US), 16.A.4b, 16.B.5b (US), and 18.A.4.

Procedure & Activities:

1. Activity I - After reading selected pages of the 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate part I, students analyze this political speech and write down their answers. They identify the main topic of the speech and the speaker's position, or stand on the issue. They analyze the persuasive technique the speaker uses. They study the speech for the clues about the historical period. Answers are discussed and shared. (Below grade level readers may achieve greater success if pages are read out loud by the instructor and/or the student.)

2. Activity II -Students receive "Monticello: The Home of Thomas Jefferson." Students access both web sites containing information about the Lincoln Home and Monticello comparing and contrasting the two properties and their owners. (This web quest may take an hour depending on the processing speed of the computers.) Once completed, students are allowed to trade answers with each other, but only if the trade is mutually beneficial.

3. Activity III - Political cartoons from 1860 Presidential election may be accessed at the referenced web site. Students should analyze a minimum of 3 cartoons, choose one and answer the questions listed on the "Analyzing Political Cartoons" handout. Answers are discussed in class. Students create their own political cartoon based on a current Presidential candidate, or a current event.

Part II: The Election


  • Students design a campaign strategy for one of the four candidates of 1860 Presidential election, including an original slogan and logo.
  • Students analyze the results of the 1860 election utilizing geographic data.
  • Students create a map of the results of the 1860 election.


  • A US History textbook.
  • Poster board, scissors, markers and colored pencils.
  • Maps of slave and free states in 1860, and the 1860 Presidential Election results by state found at

Standards: The activities in this lesson may fulfill the requirements for the following Illinois State Learning Standards: 14.A.5, 14.C.4, 14.C.5, 16.A.4b, 16.D.4b (US), 17.A.4b, 17.C.5c, and18.A.5.

Procedure & Activities:

4. Activity I - Divide the class into four groups, assigning each a Presidential candidate from the 1860 election. Students must develop a political campaign for their candidate based on the candidate's platform, including a slogan and a logo. The teacher should help students understand that the primary consideration for Presidential candidates in 1860 was how to win in a divided nation. This activity may take more than one class period. Students present their campaign material to the class. Students analyze each candidate's campaign by content, visual representation and historical accuracy.

5. Activity II -Students access the map web site completing the answers to the questions, and color in their own map reflecting the 1860 election results. The results are discussed comparing the out come in free and slave states.

Part III: Post-Election


  • Students understand the function of the Electoral College.
  • Students list 10 facts about the Electoral College.
  • Students describe 3 flaws in the Electoral College.
  • Students write a newspaper editorial reporting the outcome of the election of 1860, from either a "Northern" or "Southern" perspective.
  • Students understand the concept of secession.
  • Students list reasons for and against the legality of secession and create an informational Zine*.

Materials :

  • Answers to the most frequently asked question about the Electoral College found at
  • Copies of secession documents available at Causes of the Civil War web site at


  • Poster board, construction paper, markers, colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks and printed words or images.

Standards: The activities in this lesson may fulfill the requirements for the following Illinois State Learning Standards: 14.A.4, 14.D.4, 14.F.4a, 16.A.4a, and16.B.4.

* A zine (pronounced "zeen") is most commonly a small circulation, non-commercial publication of original or appropriated texts and images (similar to a pamphlet.)

Procedure & Activities:

6. Activity I - Students visit the electoral college web site and go to the "frequently asked questions" page recording 10 "I learned" sentences. The information is discussed in relation to the 1860 election when a President was elected without any southern electoral votes. Students are divided into groups of 4-5 participants and analyze the information to identify the flaws in the Electoral College. Students develop a plan to address at least one of the flaws.

7. Activity II - An Augusta, Georgia a newspaper editor wrote "[The Republican Party] stands forth today, hideous, revolting, loathsome, a menace not only to the union of these states, but to Society, to Liberty, and to Law." (From: America: Pathways to the Present. Prentice hall, 2003.) Drawing on information from previous activities, students write a newspaper editorial about the outcome of the 1860 election with emphasis on either a "Northern" or "Southern" perspective.

8. Activity III - Students read secession documents chosen by the instructor available on the referenced web site. The readings are discussed and the pros and cons of secession are visually listed by the instructor. Students choose a position and create a persuasive Zine including text and pictures. When completed, the Zines are displayed and available for classmates to read.

Closure: Students create a final project, which may be a power point presentation or a poster board, inspired by any of the topics or resources from this unit. It must include a minimum of ten facts, six pictures, and will be graded on accuracy of information, creativity and craftsmanship.

Extension Exercises:

  • Hold a mock Presidential election at your school. Go to and click on "Voting and Elections" for resource material.
  • Have students research and write a paper about the Presidential elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, or 2000 (when popular vote Presidents lost because of the Electoral College system.)

Attachment I

Monticello : The Home of Thomas Jefferson

Access the web site listed above to record information about Monticello. Use the brochure provided to record information about the Lincoln home. Be ready to discuss both properties.


Lincoln Home

How many acres made up this property?

What was the primary use of the property?

In which style was the main house constructed?

What was the time frame for development of this property?

Who lived here?

How many people have owned this building?

Name one fact of historical significance about this building.

Was this building restored or preserved?

What does this building tell us about the finances of their owners?

What types of materials were used in the construction of this building?

Attachment II

Analyzing Political Cartoons

Directions: In this activity, you will be reviewing a number of political cartoons either with a partner or individually.

1. Look carefully at all of the political cartons you are given examining the characters, the setting, any symbols and make a note of them.

2. Determine what the message and the humor is in the cartoon.

3. Select the cartoon you understand the best and find the most interesting.

4. Answer the questions below.

5. Be prepared to share your information with the class.


  1. What are the event(s) or issue(s) that inspired the cartoon?
  1. Are there any real people in the cartoon? Who are these people?
  1. Are their symbols in the cartoons? What are they and what do they represent?
  1. What is the cartoonist's opinion about the topic portrayed in the cartoon?

5. Do you agree or disagree with the cartoonist's opinion? Why?

The Presidential Election of 1860

Grade: 11 th

Subject: American History Time Required: 3 Days


  1. Content - National politics
  2. Process - Through active participation students will develop study skills to aid in the acquisition of knowledge and the development of products that facilitate growth and an increase in information, facts and data.
  3. Products - What will the students know and are able to do as a result of teaching this topic to demonstrate proficient knowledge of the information. Students will be able to:

· Students will be able to use online data-base to locate and use primary resources to learn more about individuals and past events in American history.

· Students will be able to label and interpret information using a map of the U.S.

· Students will have a better understanding of political parties.

· Students will be able to explain why Lincoln won the election of 1860.

· Students will have a better understanding of why the North and South were divided over the issue of slavery.

· Students will be able to list the difference in Lincoln and Douglas' characteristics at the 1958 Debate.

· Students will have a better understanding of why the Lincoln-Douglas debates over slavery in territories propelled Lincoln into the public eye.


14F.l.1 Describe events that changed U.S. political ideas

16B.l1 Causes/effects of political events in U.S. history

16D.l3 Actions of different institution before abolition

18B.J.5 Compare government/private agencies' approaches to a social problem

OBJECTIVES: Students will be able:

1. Compare the positions of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on the issue of slavery

2. To understand popular sovereignty

3. To understand why Lincoln won the election of 1860

4. To identify the political parties that emerged largely as a result of the rift over the issue of slavery.

5. Identify popular vote using a map of the U.S

6. Identify primary and secondary resources using an online data-base:


Abraham Lincoln John Breckinridge Free-Soil Party Whigs

Stephen Douglas John Bell Democrats Popular Sovereignty

Debate Wilmot Proviso Republicans Electoral College


Why did Douglas support popular sovereignty?

What do the images of Douglas and Lincoln at the debate of 1858 reveal about each candidate?

In what way was Lincoln's loss of the 1858 election considered a victory?

What were the view points of Douglas and Lincoln?

What is the difference between a primary and secondary resource?

Using the map of the "Election of 1860", what does the numbers on the map indicate about the number of electoral votes for each state and how might the election have had a different result if the Democratic Party had not split?


  • Anticipatory set: Listen to CD of recital of President Lincoln's first Inaugural Speech.
  • Teaching Methodology: Analysis of visuals (overhead projector), political cartoon of Abraham Lincoln/Stephen Douglas Debate (transparency)
  • Note taking skill Venn diagram (transparency)
  • Reading - Lincoln-Douglas Debate (hand-out)
  • Lecture/Class Discussion of content chapter 10: section III Lincoln-Douglas Debate and the Election of 1860, Using primary and secondary resources, Using Internet Date-base
  • Introduction of key terms


  • Activities

Structured reading and note taking, chapter 10 section III

Mapping Activity: Student fill in blank map "Mapping the Debates Activities" and then create a timeline of debate activities

Guided Questioning: Why did Lincoln win the election of 1860?

Students will take a field trip to the old Illinois State Capital building in Springfield, Illinois

Students will watch film: Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln

Students will create a political cartoon representing the election of 1860.

Student will complete Lincoln-Douglas questions worksheet


Daily Assessments-written and oral expression

Quests for Knowledge

Chapter 10: section 3 quiz

KWL Chart

Venn Diagram-Lincoln/Douglas Debate


Read Chapter 10:3 and take notes as you read

Complete Lincoln/Douglas Debate Map


DVD Player

DVD - Bringing History Alive

Computer - Internet Access

Overhead Projector

Transparencies - Note taking skills builder Venn diagram,

Lincoln-Douglas Debate Venn diagram hand-out

Lincoln/Douglas Debate Question Worksheets

Mapping the Lincoln/Douglas Debate Map

Student Textbook/Teacher's Edition - United States History

KWL Charts

Chapter 10:3 Quiz


Students will need to be assessed formally through section III quiz

Students will present to class the BoRB and explain how the images represent the topic

Students will complete Venn diagram

Students will write a written reflection about what they learned in class from class discussion

N.E.H. Landmark Institute-Lincoln

July 2008

Lesson Plan

Title: Primary Source Choral Reading Poem

Class: 10 th Grade U.S. History

Objective: To analyze primary source documents by accessing, processing, and communicating the document

Time: One class period


Individual student copies of selected excerpts from Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address ( For high school students not to exceed 250 words in length);

Three strips of blank paper (4 inches x ¾ inches) per student;

Two pieces of blank letter-size paper per group;

Markers of colored pencils per group ( optional)


1. The teacher will provide each student with a copy of the primary excerpt and three pieces of blank paper strips;

2. The teacher will direct the students to read the excerpt chorally ( out loud) and will direct the students to read each line as "all boys", "all girls", or "all together" as decided by the teacher on his or her master excerpt;

3. The students will write on each strip of paper individual phrases that moved them or were important to the student as they read and heard the document;

4. Students will divided into groups of four;

5. Students organize all twelve strips of paper into a free-verse poem, using all the verses exactly as they are written with no additions or deletions;

6. The students will transfer the twelve lines onto a separate blank piece of paper and read the poem to their group;

7. The students will then give the poem a title and each student signs their name to the poem;

8. The students may decorate their poem ( optional);

9. The students select a group member to read the poem to the class;

10. Finished poems are then posted on the "Wall of Fame"


The teacher will lead a discussion as to the differing interpretations of the poems based on a variety of factors, including themes, poetic construction, word usage, phraseology, etc.

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