Putting It All Together
In this lesson, students learn how Abraham Lincoln's belief in freedom and democracy, his eloquence, and the support of family and community propelled him to the White House and uplifted him through the turbulent Civil War. The following activities will help them apply what they have learned.
Activity 1: A Springfield Newspaper Account
Have students further research the topics listed below using the Internet, the library, their textbooks, etc. Combining what they learn with the information presented in this lesson, have students write a newspaper account as if they were reporting on one of the following stories:
Lincoln's "House Divided Speech" (1858)
Lincoln's Republican Party Presidential Nomination (1860)
The Election of Abraham Lincoln (1860)
Lincoln's Farewell from Springfield (1861)
Lincoln's Funeral (1865)
Make sure that all perspectives are represented by dividing students into teams having some writing articles in support of Lincoln (thus in support of his efforts to control the spread of slavery) while others write counter positions most likely from southern viewpoints.
Activity 2: A Visit from a Hometown Politician
Invite a locally elected official--mayor, city council member, state representative, school board member, etc.--to speak to your class on his or her experience in politics. Have students ask questions about the official's background; their career that brought them to politics; what personally drew the person into politics; what drives them now; and, what unexpected crises have they had to deal with. Following the interview hold a class discussion having students make comparisons between the local official and Abraham Lincoln.
Activity 3: Modern Reporting
Have students review the newspaper articles from this lesson. Then have students read articles dealing with politicians and political events in a present-day local or national newspaper. Hold a class discussion on the similarities or differences in how reporters wrote during Lincoln's time compared to today. Now have students write their own report of a current political event that either happened in your community or that they witnessed on the television.