Lesson Plan

Lincoln-Douglas Debates Grades 9-12

Lincoln-Douglas Debate

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Grade Level:
High School: Ninth Grade through Twelfth Grade
Subject:
Social Studies
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Common Core Standards:
9-10.RH.1, 11-12.RH.1
Thinking Skills:
Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words. Applying: Apply an abstract idea in a concrete situation to solve a problem or relate it to a prior experience. Analyzing: Break down a concept or idea into parts and show the relationships among the parts. Creating: Bring together parts (elements, compounds) of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for NEW situations. Evaluating: Make informed judgements about the value of ideas or materials. Use standards and criteria to support opinions and views.

Objective

From August-September 1858, Abraham Lincoln challenged Stephen A. Douglas for one of two United States Senate seats from Illinois.  Although Lincoln lost the election, the debates catapulted him to national prominence and eventually to the Presidency in 1860. Students will use information obtained from articles and actual speeches made by Lincoln and Douglas on in order to answer these questions: What were Abraham Lincoln’s beliefs? How can those beliefs be seen in his statements and actions?

Background

The introduction of the Kansas - Nebraska Act in Congress by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas in 1854 ignited political turmoil in the United States. This act was based on the idea that as new territories were formed in the west due to population growth and those territories applied for statehood, the populace of the new state should decide, using "popular sovereignty," whether the new state would allow slavery within its borders. The uproar created by this bill in Congress drew Abraham Lincoln out of private life as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois back into the political arena. Speaking out against the bill at every opportunity, Lincoln, in 1858, decided to run for the Senate seat occupied by Douglas. 

Over the months of August, September, and October of 1858, Abraham Lincoln challenged the incumbent, Stephen A. Douglas, for the Senate seat from Illinois.  In a series of seven debates on the issue of slavery and the idea of popular sovereignty, the two candidates 
drew large crowds to towns such as Freeport, Quincy, and Alton.  Although Lincoln lost
the election, the debates catapulted him to national prominence and eventually to the 
Presidency of the United States in 1860.   

In the Lincoln Mosaic students will examine and analyze the significant people, places and events that contributed to the development of Lincoln both as an individual and as a leader among men.

The Lincoln Mosaic unit is broken down into five lesson plans covering a ten day period, with each lesson consisting of 45 minutes to an hour depending on the ability levels of students and the subject matter. This unit can be modified to meet the needs of students with various ability levels as well as be altered to accommodate different types of class schedules.

 

Preparation

  1. Print off enough copies of the “Primary Sources for Journal Entry” so that each group can have a copy.
  2. Copy one for each student of the following: “Political Cartoon Analysis Questions”, “Journal Entry Template” and “Create Your Own Lincoln Political Cartoon”
  3. Copy one for each group of: “Political Cartoon” set and “Journal Examples”  

Materials

This is the template for the Journal Entry for students to fill out, with student examples.

Download Journal Entry Worksheet and Examples

These political cartoons are used in the lesson hook.

Download Political Cartoons on Lincoln

These are the political cartoon questions in the lesson hook.

Download Political Cartoons Analysis Questions

These are primary sources available for students to use when writing the journal entry.

Download Lincoln Primary Sources for Journal Entry

Lesson Hook/Preview

  1. Put students into groups of three. Give each group of a set of political cartoons and three copies of the political cartoon analysis questions.

  2. Each student should analyze a different political cartoon.

  3. Then, as a group, they should identify images, ideas, or words that that are similar or different between the cartoons.

  4. Explain to students that they are seeing the public’s perception of Abraham Lincoln through political cartoons. Now, they will be seeing Abraham Lincoln through his own words: his speeches and debates. Then, they will be writing a journal entry from Lincoln’s own perspective.

Procedure

  1. Hand out to each student a copy of the Journal Entry Template.

  2. Hand out to each group of three students a set of the examples of Journal Entries. Then critique the positives and negatives of each example.

  3. Explain to students that they will be choosing as a group at least two primary sources to read and analyze. They will read these primary sources as a group and take notes on the Journal Entry Template.

  4. Then, the students will write their own journal entry independently.

  5. Direct students to highlight information from different sources in different colors.

Vocabulary

  1. Debate – a formal discussion in a public meeting in which opposing arguments are put forward
  2. Beliefs – what an individual thinks or believes  
  3. Slavery – Restricted freedom and forced labor
  4. Popular sovereignty – The principle that the power of the government comes from the people
  5. Expansion – the action of becoming larger or spreading
  6. Social Issues – An issue that influences by a large number of individuals within a society

Assessment Materials

Create Your Own Lincoln Political Cartoon

Students use what they have learned from their primary source review to create their own political cartoon depicting Lincoln. 

Supports for Struggling Learners

  • Allow students to write journal entries as a group

  • Require students to integrate fewer primary sources

  • Complete the primary source analysis as a jigsaw (one group analyzes 1 document, then partners with individuals from 2 other groups with 2 other documents)

  • Put students into mixed-ability groups

Enrichment Activities

Encourage students to create a political cartoon with a positive bias and another with a negative bias.

Related Lessons or Education Materials

In the Lincoln Mosaic students will examine and analyze the significant people, places and events that contributed to the development of Lincoln both as an individual and as a leader among men.

The Lincoln Mosaic unit is broken down into five lesson plans covering a ten day period, with each lesson consisting of 45 minutes to an hour depending on the ability levels of students and the subject matter. This unit can be modified to meet the needs of students with various ability levels as well as be altered to accommodate different types of class schedules.

 

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Last updated: May 21, 2015