Abraham Lincoln came to understand that to achieve a lasting peace, slavery must end.
Grade Range: 9-12
Resource Type(s): Reviewed Websites, Primary Sources, Lessons & Activities
Duration: 90 minutes
Date Posted: 10/11/2016
The goal of this inquiry is to introduce students to historiography as they wrestle with historical significance within the context of a historical controversy. The common narrative about the end of slavery has given credit to President Abraham Lincoln, who earned the nickname “The Great Emancipator.” However, over the past 30 years, many scholars have sought to revise this narrative, with a critical mass now arguing that the slaves freed themselves. Students look at the laws that emancipated certain slaves over time and then examine the arguments contemporary historians have made about who was responsible for freeing the slaves. This inquiry invites students to engage with the actual historical debate, but rather than focusing on the veracity of claims, students concentrate on the significance of the issues behind the claims. By looking at the controversy about who freed the slaves, students should understand why this issue matters 150 years later. It is important to note that, in their contrasting interpretations, scholars do not really disagree on the facts of emancipation, but rather on the interpretation of those facts. This crucial difference is key to helping students engage in what it means to think and act like historians.
United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)
Historical Thinking Standards (Grades 5-12)
Common Core State Standards (Grades 9-10)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 (Key Ideas and Details): Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.5 (Craft and Structure): Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6 (Craft and Structure): Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Common Core State Standards (Grades 11-12)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 (Key Ideas and Details): Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5 (Craft and Structure): Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 (Craft and Structure): Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.
College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards (Grades 9-12)
D2.Civ.4.9-12.(Civics): Explain how the U.S. Constitution establishes a system of government that has powers, responsibilities, and limits that have changed over time and that are still contested.
D2.His.14.9-12. (History): Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
D3.2.9-12. (Gathering and Evaluating Sources): Evaluate the credibility of a source by examining how experts value the source.
D3.3.9-12. (Developing Claims and Using Evidence): Identify evidence that draws information directly and substantively from multiple sources to detect inconsistencies in evidence in order to revise or strengthen claims.
D3.4.9-12. (Developing Claims and Using Evidence): Refine claims and counterclaims attending to precision, significance, and knowledge conveyed through the claim while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both.
D4.2.9-12. (Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions): Construct explanations using sound reasoning, correct sequence (linear or non-linear), examples, and details with significant and pertinent information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanation given its purpose (e.g., cause and effect, chronological, procedural, technical).