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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file, "Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historic Site" (with photographs), and other materials from the park. It was written by Diane James Weber, former education specialist, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
The lesson could be used in teaching units on America's 19th-century westward expansion, sectional conflict leading to the Civil War, or a variety of civics issues. Students will study the role the Old Courthouse in St. Louis played in national events of the 19th century.
Time Period: Mid-19th Century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To explain why St. Louis was founded on the Mississippi River and the important role the city and its courthouse played in the westward expansion movement.
2) To identify and discuss issues significant to 19th-century railroad expansion to the western region of the nation.
3) To explain how a legal verdict -- the Dred Scott Decision -- can affect national policy.
4) To identify and describe a historic structure in their own community that has been rehabilitated and reused.

Materials for students
The readings and maps listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied and distributed to students. The photographs appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a high-resolution, full-page version.
1) three maps of the St. Louis area and 19th-century railroad construction;
2) two readings about important events that took place at the Old Courthouse;
3) a script for a mock trial adapted from court transcripts of the Dred Scott case; and
4) two photos of the Old Courthouse and its surroundings.

Visiting the Park
The Old Courthouse and the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch together make up the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. This national park was established in 1935 to memorialize the role of Thomas Jefferson and others responsible for the nation's territorial expansion to the Pacific and of the countless pioneers who explored and settled the great American West. The park is located in downtown St. Louis along the banks of the Mississippi River, and is accessible by way of Interstates 70 and 64. It is open year-round. For more information, visit the park web pages.



Comments or Questions

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