This lesson would be taught after the Civil War and the idea of Radical control of Reconstruction has been introduced and would be used in an Advanced Placement United States History class.
Overview: Abraham Lincoln’s presidency was framed by the ghastly specter of the Civil War when “brother fought against brother”, which led to 620,000 deaths and massive destruction on many different levels. Lincoln’s Election in 1860 as a Republican candidate, who ran on the promise of limiting slavery to where it existed and the protection of the Union, was seen as a threat by the southern states and they threatened to secede from the Union. The 1861 Inaugural Address given by Lincoln gave him an opportunity to provide his Constitutional reasons for the south to stay.
The war lasted for four long years and Lincoln was forced to make many agonizing decisions regarding slavery, emancipation, and military strategies. Lincoln felt that the election of 1864 was essential for the United States to maintain if the country was truly based on democratic principles. Through the resolve or luck of Union General Sherman’s March through the south, he was re-elected to serve his second term in office. The Inaugural Address of 1865 reflected a major change of priorities for Lincoln as the country was facing a different set of challenges. Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865 dramatically altered the landscape as far as Reconstruction is concerned. The Radical Republicans would employ an agenda that was harsher than most people felt that Lincoln would employ.
Students will be able to visually observe the major word differences between the two Inaugural addresses of Lincoln by using Wordle.
Students will examine and provide an analysis of Lincoln’s two Inaugural addresses.
Students will provide a “what if” projection of Reconstruction policies if Lincoln survived and not been assassinated.
Essential Question: Based upon the conciliatory language of the 2ndInaugural speech, how would the effects of Reconstruction been different if Lincoln was not assassinated?
Activity One: Students in groups of four will create “Word Clouds” of Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 and 1865 Inaugural Addresses by using the program http://www.wordle.net. They will examine each address and list ten key words of each speech and put information in Table One.
Activity Two: Students will read the 1861 Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln and provide 8-10 bulleted points in Table One on major issues that are discussed by Lincoln. The document can be found at:
A classroom discussion will be utilized to process the information.
Activity Three: Students will again look at each address and fill in the data that is required to complete Table Two. A classroom discussion will be utilized to process the information.
Activity Four: Based upon the previous information that has been discussed and analyzed,
How are the two addresses similar?
How are the two addresses different?
Students will put the information in bulleted points in Table Three.
Activity Five: Students will conclude the activity by writing a one page essay to the following prompt:
Based upon the conciliatory language of the 2nd Inaugural speech, how would the effects of Reconstruction been different if Lincoln was not assassinated?
Document Three will be turned in for a grade; One and Two are up to teacher discretion.