Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

School of Education, Health and Human Behavior
School of Education

Title of Unit/Lesson:
The War Begins (Adapted from a lesson found at )

U.S. History

Topic of Unit/Lesson: The beginning events of the Civil War

Grades: 10- 11

Time: Two days

Applicable Illinois State Standards:

Social Science:

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).

English Language Arts:

1.B.4c Read age-appropriate material with fluency and accuracy. 1.C.4b Explain and justify an interpretation of a text. 1.C.4d Summarize and make generalizations from content and relate them to the purpose 3.A.5 Produce grammatically correct docu­ments using standard manuscript specifications for a variety of purposes and audiences.

Enduring Understandings:

· It is necessary to analyze all options/information available before making an important decision.

· Persistence, determination and wisdom can get one through even the through circumstances.

Essential Questions:

  • How did Lincoln win the election of 1860?
  • Did President Lincoln do all he could to prevent war with the South?
  • What conflicting views/personalities did Lincoln deal with in his cabinet?

Resources/Materials needed for the lessons:

  • Copy of the Lincoln's First Inaugural Address:

  • Copies of transcripts from Lincoln's cabinet members:

Activities and Strategies to be used in the lesson/unit:

Day 1:

  • The teacher will discuss with students the events surrounding the Presidential election of 1860, the candidates involved and the resulting secession of the southern states culminating with the Battle for Fort Sumter.
  • Students will then be introduced to Lincoln's First Inaugural Address. They will be broken up into four groups and will analyze the speech from the perspective of the group. The groups are as follows:
    1. Secessionists
    2. Unionists
    3. Abolitionists
    4. Compromisers
  • Students will be asked to locate passages from the speech they think speaks to their group and which parts of the speech they dislike or find offensive.

Day 2:

  • The teacher will discuss in detail the events of the Battle for Fort Sumter. The lecture/discussion will include Lincoln's options during the crisis, how he weighed the opinions of his cabinet members and how his actions were perceived.
  • The students will again be broken into groups (this time six groups). Each of the six groups will be responsible for analyzing the advice of a cabinet member. Transcripts of Lincoln's cabinet can be found at:

  • The teacher will then facilitate a debate in which each group (cabinet member) states their opinions/advice on the problem and discusses the potential consequences/confederate reaction to each plan of action by President Lincoln?

Day 3:

  • Three optional assignments/assessments:

1) Students will write a memo from a cabinet member to President Lincoln explaining

their reactions to events at Fort Sumter, and outlining their advice on handling the situation.

2) Students will write a telegram from President Lincoln to Major Anderson explaining to him why he will not be reinforced with additional troops.

3) Students will write a letter from President Lincoln to the ambassadors from Great Britain and France explaining the current situation in the United States. Lincoln must ensure them that there will be no war between the states. He must further urge their governments not to choose sides, and he must certainly discourage them from recognizing the Confederate States of America as a sovereign nation.

facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff googleplusoff socialoff