The Failure of Compromise

The essays in this section have been written by leading scholars of American history. They provide additional depth on events and ideas referred to in the introductory essay and, in some cases, different interpretations by historians looking at the same events. These essays are particularly useful as informational texts to introduce your students to one of the most exciting aspects of studying history—understanding the past from a variety of perspectives.

Frederick Douglass to Maria Webb, Nov. 30, 1859. (GLC08360)

Admiration and Ambivalence: Frederick Douglass and John Brown

Author: David W. Blight Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John Brown, ca. June 1859, painted photograph. (GLC04447)

John Brown: Villain or Hero?

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Literature, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Abraham Lincoln, photographed by Mathew Brady, February 27, 1860. (GLC05136.01)

The Making of the President: Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1860

Author: Harold Holzer Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
[Dividing the] National [Map]. [Cincinnati], 1860. (LC-DIG-ppmsca-33122)

The Road to War

Author: Chandra M. Manning Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Essays from Other Sub-Eras

Fragment of Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, ca. 1857. (GLC02533)

Lincoln and Abolitionism

Author: Douglas L. Wilson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Photograph of Abraham Lincoln, November 1863. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural

Author: Lewis E. Lehrman Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
John Marshall and Roger B. Taney (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs)

The Marshall and Taney Courts: Continuities and Changes

Author: R. B. Bernstein Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, 1846. (GLC05117)

The Slave Narratives: A Genre and a Source

Author: David W. Blight Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

“Half slave, half free”: Lincoln and the “House Divided”

Author: Gabor S. Boritt Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln’s notes for a speech on the abolition of slavery, ca. 1858.

“That glorious consummation”: Lincoln on the Abolition of Slavery

Author: Allen C. Guelzo Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln’s notes for a speech on slavery and American government, ca. 185

“To give all a chance”: Lincoln, Abolition, and Economic Freedom

Author: Lewis E. Lehrman Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: