Racism in the North: Frederick Douglass on "a vulgar and senseless prejudice," 1870

Frederick Douglass to Thomas B. Pugh, November 17, 1870 (GLC01954)In 1870 Thomas Burnett Pugh, an ardent abolitionist prior to the Civil War, invited Frederick Douglass to participate in the "Star Course" lecture series he had organized at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. However, Douglass "learned with some surprise considering our recently improved civilization, that in servile deference to a vulgar and senseless prejudice against my long abused and proscribed people, the Directors of that popular Hall persist in refusing to allow it to be used for a lecture to which my race shall be admitted on terms of equality with others." In this strongly worded letter refusing the speaking engagement, Douglass conveyed his disgust not only with the academy’s policy but also at the "intensity of [Philadelphia’s] wolfish hate and snobbish pride of race."

Excerpt

I believe that the "City of Brotherly love" with its hundreds of Altars to the "Lamb of God" stands almost alone in the intensity of its wolfish hate and snobbish pride of race. It clung longer to proscription on its cars and other modes of travel than any other city of the North, and the "Jim Crow pew" is retained there more extensively than in any other place North of Mason and Dixon’s line. Nevertheless, I do not despair of speedy improvement, and can well afford to confine my labors to other towns and cities, until such time as shall bring more favorable conditions than the Christian, and enlightened Directors of the Academy of Music would impose.

A full transcript is available here.

Frederick Douglass’s tribute to Abraham Lincoln, 1880

Frederick Douglass’s tribute to Abraham Lincoln, 1880 (GLC09091)Despite initial differences, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln forged a relationship over the course of the Civil War based on a shared vision. Fifteen years after Lincoln’s death, Douglass described him as "one of the noblest wisest and best men I ever knew." This stirring tribute to Lincoln was later published in Osborn H. Oldroyd’s The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles (1883).

Transcript

A great man: Tender of heart, strong of nerve, of boundless patience and broadest sympathies, with no motive apart from his country. He could receive counsel from a child and give counsel to a sage. The simple [struck: could] approached him with ease – and the learned approached him with deference. Take him for all in all Abraham Lincoln was one of the noblest wisest and best men I ever knew.

Fredk. Douglass
1880

A pdf of the transcript is available here.

Buying Frederick Douglass’s freedom, 1846

Hugh Auld to Anna Richardson, October 6, 1846 (GLC07484.04)After he had escaped from slavery in 1838, Frederick Douglass became a well-known orator and abolitionist. He wrote an autobiography in 1845, but because he was a runaway slave, its publication increased the chances that he would be captured and returned to slavery. Douglass went on a speaking tour of Ireland and England to remove himself from immediate danger. In 1846, his supporters in England made arrangements to purchase his freedom. They contacted Hugh Auld, whose family had held Douglass (then known as Frederick Bailey) in slavery.

These documents illustrate some of the negotiations between Anna Richardson in England and Hugh Auld in Maryland as they arranged Douglass’s manumission. The situation was complicated by the fact that Hugh Auld and his brother, Thomas Auld, had both owned Douglass at different times. Through Walter Lowrie in New York, the Richardsons insisted that Hugh prove his full ownership of Douglass or have Thomas sign the paperwork as well. Thomas sold his portion to Hugh, and Hugh proceeded to finalize the paperwork to "render him entirely & Legally free" in December 1846. As a result, Douglass was able to return to the United States a free man.

A full transcript of Hugh Auld’s letter to Anna Richardson can be found here.
A transcript of Walter Lowrie’s letter to Hugh Auld can be found here.
A transcript of J. Meredith’s receipt for professional services in Douglass’s manumission can be found here.

Excerpt

Hugh Auld to Anna Richardson, October 6, 1846 (GLC07484.04)

In reply to your Letter dated Newcastle on Tyne 8th mo 17th 1846 I State that I will Take 150 ₤ Sterling for the manumassion [sic] of my slave Frederick Bailey, alias, Douglass – I am prepared to give such papers or deed of Manumission as will forever exempt him from any claims by any person or persons, in other words the papers will render him entirely & Legally free.

As soon as your agent is prepared to deliver me the money I will hand him the papers.

Frederick Douglass: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

Unit Objective

This unit is part of Gilder Lehrman’s series of Common Core State Standards–based teaching resources. These units were written to enable students to understand, summarize, and analyze original texts of historical significance. The lessons are built around the use of textual evidence and critical thinking skills.

Lesson 1

Objective

Students will be asked to "read like a detective" and gain a clear understanding of "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July," a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will discover what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate their understanding by writing a succinct summary using the author’s words and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. The first lesson will be facilitated by the teacher and done as a whole-class lesson.

Introduction

The teacher tells the students that they will be learning what Frederick Douglass said on the 5th of July in 1852. Born into slavery in Maryland, Frederick Douglass was taught to read and write even though it was illegal for anyone to teach a slave those skills. Douglass went on to write that "knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom." After two unsuccessful attempts to escape bondage Douglass finally succeeded in September 1838. During the 1850s, Frederick Douglass typically spent about six months of the year traveling and giving abolitionist lectures as well as speaking and writing from his home. On July 5, 1852, Douglass delivered an address commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the Ladies of the Rochester Anti-Slavery Sewing Society. This address has come to be known as Douglass’s "What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?" speech. Resist the temptation to put the document into too much context. Remember, we are trying to let the students discover what Douglass actually said, and then let the students develop ideas based solely on Douglass’s words.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given an abridged copy of "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" and are asked to read it silently to themselves. The teacher should make certain that students understand that the original text has been abridged for this lesson. Explain the purpose and use of ellipses.
  2. The teacher then "share reads" the document with the students. This is done by having the students follow along silently while the teacher begins reading aloud. The teacher models prosody, inflection, and punctuation. The teacher then asks the class to join in with the reading after a few sentences while the teacher continues to read along with the students, still serving as the model for the class. This technique will support struggling readers as well as English language learners (ELL).
  3. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the first part of the document today and that they will be learning how to do in-depth analysis for themselves. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #1. This contains the first selection from the speech.
  4. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #1 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device), and explains that today the whole class will be going through this process together.
  5. The teacher explains that the objective is to select "Key Words" from the first section and then use those words to create a few summary sentences that demonstrate understanding of what Douglass was saying in the first section of the document.
  6. Guidelines for selecting Key Words: Key Words contribute to the meaning of the text. They words are usually nouns or verbs. Don’t pick "connector" words (are, is, the, and, so, etc.). The number of Key Words depends on the length of the original paragraph. This selection is 275 words long, so the class can pick up to twelve Key Words. The other Key Words rule is that the students cannot select words they do not know the meaning of. There will be opportunities to teach students how to use context clues, word analysis, and dictionary skills to discover word meanings.
  7. Students will now select up to twelve words from the text that they believe are Key Words and write them in the box to the right of the text on their organizer.
  8. The teacher surveys the class to find out what the most popular choices were. The teacher can either tally this or just survey the class by a show of hands. Using this vote and some discussion the class should, with guidance from the teacher, decide on twelve Key Words. For example, let’s say that the class decides on the following words: slave, plantation, escaped, celebration, National Independence (you can allow two or three words as a Key Word on occasion if it makes sense) political freedom, America, young, stream, refreshing, angry, and dry up. Now, no matter which words the students had previously selected, the students will write the words agreed upon by the class or chosen by the teacher into the Key Word list on their organizers.
  9. The teacher now explains that the class will use these Key Words to write a few sentences that demonstrate summarize what Douglass was saying. This should be a class negotiation process. For example, "I escaped from a slave plantation. Today is a celebration of National Independence and political freedom, but America is a young country, a stream that can be refreshing or angry or just dry up." You might find that the class decides they don’t need some of the words to make it even more streamlined. This is part of the negotiation process. The final negotiated sentences are copied into the organizer in the third section under the original text and key word sections.
  10. The teacher explains that the students will now restate their summary sentences in their own words, not having to use Douglass’ words. Again, this is a class negotiation process. For example, "I am an escaped slave here to talk about this young country’s freedom and future."
  11. Wrap-up: The class can discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. They could use the back of their organizers or a more formal vocabulary form to make a note of these words and their meaning.

Lesson 2

Objective

Students will be asked to "read like a detective" and gain a clear understanding of "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July," a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will discover what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate their understanding by writing a succinct summary using the author’s words, and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In this lesson the students will work both individually and in small groups.

Introduction

The teacher tells the students that they will be further exploring what Frederick Douglass was saying in the second selection from the "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" speech by reading and understanding Douglass’s words, and then being able to restate, in their own words, the meaning of what he wrote. Today they will be working with partners and small groups in much the same way that they worked as a whole class yesterday.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given an abridged copy of the speech and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the gist of the first selection.
  3. The teacher then share reads the second selection with the students.
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the second part of the speech today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #2 with the second selection from the speech.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #2 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device), and explains that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday but as partners and small groups.
  6. The guidelines for selecting these words are the same as they were yesterday. However, because this paragraph is shorter (234 words), they will select ten to twelve words. The students will be paired up and negotiate which Key Words to select. After they have decided on their words, both students will write those words in the Key Words box of their organizers.
  7. The teacher now puts two pairs together. These two pairs go through the same negotiation process to come up with their Key Words. The teacher should be strategic in forming the groups in order to ensure the most participation by all group members.
  8. The teacher explains that by using these Key Words the group will build a few sentences that summarize what Frederick Douglass was saying. The group negotiates to build those sentences. During this process, the teacher ensures that everyone is contributing to the process. It is very easy for one student to take control of the entire process and for the other students to let them do so. All of the students should write the group’s negotiated sentence(s) into their organizers.
  9. The teacher now asks for the groups to share out the summary sentences that they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the groups at getting at Douglass’s main idea and were they very careful to only use Douglass’s Key Words in doing so?
  10. The groups will now restate their summary sentences in their own words, not having to use Douglass’s words. Again, this is a group-negotiation process. After they have decided on a restatement, it should be written into their organizers. Again, the teacher should have the groups share out and discuss the clarity and quality of the groups’ attempts.
  11. Wrap-up: The class can discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. They could use the back of their organizer or other vocabulary form to make a note of these words and their meaning.

Lesson 3

Objective

Students will be asked to "read like a detective" and gain a clear understanding of "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July," a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will discover what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate understanding of the text by writing a succinct summary using the author’s words and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In this lesson the students will be working individually unless you think that they still need to work in a group or with a partner.

Introduction

The teacher tells the students that they will be further exploring what Frederick Douglass was saying in the third section of his speech by reading and understanding Douglass’s words and then being able to restate, in their own words, the gist of what he was saying. Today they will be working by themselves on their summaries unless you think that they need another day working with a partner.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given an abridged copy of the speech and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first and second selections.
  3. The teacher then share reads the third selection with the students.
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the third selection from the speech today. All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #3 with the third selection from "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?"
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #3 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device). Explain that today they will be going through the same process as yesterday, but they will be working by themselves.
  6. The guidelines for selecting these words are the same as they were yesterday. This selection has 211 words so they can pick up to ten Key Words. The students select Key Words and write those words in the Key Words box of their organizers.
  7. The students will build a summary sentence that restates what Douglass was writing about, using Douglass’s Key Words, and write their summary sentence in their organizers.
  8. The students will then restate the summary sentence in their own words, not having to use Douglass’s words. This should be added to their organizers.
  9. The teacher now asks the students to share out the summary sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the students at getting the gist of what Douglass was saying?
  10. Wrap-up: The class can discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. They could use the back of their organizer or a vocabulary form to make a note of these words and their meaning.

Lesson 4

Objective

Students will be asked to "read like a detective" and gain a clear understanding of "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July," a speech delivered by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852. Through reading and analyzing the original text, the students will discover what is explicitly stated, draw logical inferences, and demonstrate these skills by writing a succinct summary using the author’s words and then restating that summary in the student’s own words. In this lesson the students will again be working individually.

Introduction

Tell the students that they will be further exploring what Frederick Douglas was saying in the fourth section of his speech by reading and understanding Douglass’s words and then being able to restate, in their own words, the gist of this section of his speech. Today they will be working by themselves on their summaries.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given an abridged copy of the speech and are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The students and teacher discuss what they did yesterday and what they decided was the meaning of the first, second, and third selections.
  3. The teacher then share reads the fourth selection with the students.
  4. The teacher explains that the class will be analyzing the fourth selection from "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" All students are given a copy of Summary Organizer #4 with the fourth selection from the speech.
  5. The teacher puts a copy of Summary Organizer #4 on display in a format large enough for all of the class to see (an overhead projector, Elmo projector, or similar device), and explains that they will be going through the same process as yesterday, working by themselves.
  6. The guidelines for selecting these words are the same as they were yesterday. This selection has 278 words, so they can pick up to twelve Key Words. The students select Key Words and write those words in the Key Words box of their organizers.
  7. The students will then build a few sentences that summarize what Douglass was saying, using Douglass’s Key Words. The students should write the summary sentence into their organizers.
  8. The stuents then restate the summary sentence(s) in their own words, not having to use Douglass’s words. This should be added to their organizers.
  9. The teacher now asks for students to share out the sentences they have created. This should start a teacher-led discussion that points out the qualities of the various attempts. How successful were the students at understanding what Douglass was saying?
  10. Wrap-up: The class can discuss vocabulary that the students found confusing or difficult. They can use the back of their organizers to make a note of these words and their meaning.

Lesson 5

Objective

This lesson has two objectives. First, the students will synthesize the work of the last four days and demonstrate that they understand what Douglass was saying in "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" Second,  the students will write an argumentative essay that will require them to make inferences from the text and support their conclusions with explicit information from the text.   

Introduction

The teacher tells the students that they will first be reviewing what Frederick Douglass said in "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" Second, the students will respond to a prompt in the form of a short argumentative essay. The teacher explains to the students that their conclusions must be backed up by evidence taken directly from Douglass’s speech.

Materials

Procedure

  1. All students are given a copy of the abridged speech and then are asked to read it silently to themselves.
  2. The teacher asks the students for their best personal summary of selection one. This is done as a class discussion. The teacher may write these short sentences on the overhead or similar device. The same procedure is used for selections two, three, and four. When they are, finished the class should have a summary, either written or oral, of the speech in only a few sentences. This should reinforce the students’ understanding of Douglass’s text.
  3. The teacher can decide to have the students write a short essay in response to one of the prompts in class or, if the students lack enough experience in writing an argumentative essay, the teacher can do a short lesson on constructing an argumentative essay before having the students address one of the prompts. If the latter is the case save the essay writing until the next class period or use as an out-of-class assignment. In either case, remind the students that any arguments they make must be backed up with evidence taken directly from "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" The first prompt is designed to be the easiest.

Prompts

  1. Where does Frederick Douglass place the blame for slavery in America, and how does he make that argument?
  2. Why does Frederick Douglass compare the United States to a river; and how may America avoid becoming "the sad tale of departed glory"?
  3. Why does Frederick Douglass refer to the audience as "you" or "your"? What arguments does Douglass make that reinforce this point of view?

Frederick Douglass on Jim Crow, 1887

Frederick Douglass to unknown recipient, November 23, 1887 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Frederick Douglass tirelessly labored to end slavery but true equality remained out of reach. Despite the successful passage of several Constitutional amendments and federal laws after the Civil War, unwritten rules and Jim Crow laws continued to curtail the rights and freedoms of African Americans. Douglass concisely summarized the reality of Jim Crow in an 1887 letter that claimed the South’s "wrongs are not much now written in laws which all may see – but the hidden practices of people who have not yet, abandoned the idea of Mastery and dominion over their fellow man." Racism, violence, and vigilantism were the tools of this "Mastery," which permitted whites to produce a social order characterized by inequality.

Having lived in Washington, DC, since 1872, Douglass had ample opportunity to witness discrimination in nearby Maryland and Virginia and was keenly aware of the struggle for quality schooling and judicial access during the post-Reconstruction years.Douglass’s writing reflected the belief shared amongst the black community that the best places to combat the "hidden practices" of Jim Crow were the schoolhouse and the court room. "[F]rom all I can learn colored lawyers are admitted to practice in Southern Courts and I am very glad to admit the fact – for it implies a wonderful revolution in the public sentiment of the Southern States. I have not yet learned what are the inequalities between the races as to school privileges at the south – In some of the states the time alloted to colored schools is less than that allowed to whites. And I have heard and believe that in none of the states are the teachers of colored Schools as well paid as the teachers of White Schools." By the 1880s, the separation of the races became increasingly apparent with school segregation mandated by law in nearly every Southern state. Despite this adversity, Douglass made it clear that inequalities could be corrected by challenging them. 

Unfortunately the situation became worse before it improved. Formal legal segregation in the South became a reality with the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling in 1896, which stated that segregation did not constitute discrimination, thus establishing the "separate but equal" doctrine. It would take nearly seventy years before the civil rights revolution that Douglass envisioned to take hold and provide for federally mandated equal conditions for all citizens.

A full transcript is available.

Transcript

My dear sir:  Pardon delay - answer to your letter made careful enquiry necessary. From all I can learn colored Lawyers are admitted to practice in Southern Courts, and I am very glad to admit the fact - for it implies a wonderful revolution in the public sentiment of the Southern States. I have not yet learned what are the inequalities between the races as to school privileges at the South. In some of the states the time allotted to colored schools is less than that allowed to whites. And I have heard and believe that in none of the states are the teachers of colored Schools as well paid as the teachers of White schools. My own observation has been that white teachers of Colored Schools in the southern states, show but little interest in their pupils. This is not strange, since they have been selected as teachers more because of their necessities, than from any interests they have shown in the progress and elevation of the colored race. [struck: bu] I say this not of all, but of those in Virginia for instance who have come under my observation.

            In Kentucky I believe so far as the law is concerned equal advantages are extended to colored children for Education, and the Same may be true of other states. I think the Bureau of Education will give you all the information you may require on this branch of the subject of your enquiries. Our wrongs are not so much now in written laws which all may see - but the hidden practices of a people who have not yet abandoned the idea of Mastery and dominion over their fellow man.

With great Respect
        Yours truly
             Fredk Douglass

Cedar Hill Anacostia D.C.
         Nov: 23. 1887

"The whole land is full of blood," 1851

James William Charles Pennington to unknown, April 29, 1851 (Gilder Lehrman Coll"The whole land is full of blood."

These ominous words were uttered by James W. C. Pennington, a former slave and noted abolitionist, in the wake of Thomas Sims’s infamous trial. Sims had escaped from slavery in Georgia before being captured in Massachusetts in April 1851 and taken to court under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The judge decided in favor of Sims’s owner, and the seventeen-year-old was marched through the streets of Boston by US marines before being returned to Georgia. The authoritarian nature and public spectacle of Sims’s case sent a resounding message to slaves who sought refuge in the North. It also inflamed anti-slavery sentiment, spurring many abolitionists to action.

Pennington could closely sympathize with the plight of Thomas Sims. In 1827 he had escaped from slavery in Maryland. Pennington traveled first to Pennsylvania before settling in Brooklyn, New York, where he worked as a blacksmith while attending night classes. Since Yale would not enroll him as a regular student, he audited courses in Yale’s School of Divinity and obtained his ordination and license to preach in 1838. Pennington’s achievements as a scholar and an abolitionist were remarkable. He is noted for establishing an argument for the African origins of western European civilization and is also known for presiding as minister over Frederick Douglass’s marriage to Anna Murray. In this letter, Pennington offers us a glimpse into the frustrating struggle for abolition at a time when fugitive slave laws provoked pivotal court rulings. In his words, "These cases are enough to break one’s heart. It is difficult to see how the enormous evil and crime of Slavery can be carried to a greater extent."

A full transcript is available.

Transcript

9 Grinfield Street
Edge Hill
Liverpool Ap 29, 1851

Esteemed Friend, I have lately had a letter our excellent friend Mrs Henry Richardson, in which she informs me of your wish to have a few of my autographs—I take it very kind of you to think of one so humble in life. My constant trouble of mind is the evils now pressing on my nation and people. What the end is to no eye human can forsee & we are naturally inclined when suffering bad to fear worse. The mail which arrived yesterday the Baltic gives an account of the termination of the last Boston case. Thomas Sims has been given over to his Claimant and has been taken back into Slavery. These cases are enough to break one’s heart. It is difficult to see how the enormous evil and crime of Slavery can be carried to a greater extent.

The whole land is full of blood. The cry of the poor is going up from every part of the country into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth Will he not soon hear and answer; "Lord give us help from trouble"

Yours Truly
J.W.C. Pennington

"Men of Color, To Arms! To Arms," 1863

After the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted on January 1, 1863, black leaders including Frederick Douglass swiftly moved to recruit African Americans as soldiers. "A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men," Douglass wrote in Frederick Douglass’ Monthly, "calls logically and loudly for colored men to help suppress it." This broadside, endorsed by Douglass (third name in the first column) and other African American leaders, urges free African Americans to enlist, declaring "If we value liberty, if we wish to be free in this land. . . . If we would be regarded men, if we would forever silence the tongue of Calumny, of Prejudice and Hate, let us Rise Now and Fly to Arms."

 

 

 

 

"Men of Color: To Arms! To Arms!"

Overview

Approximately 200,000 African American men served as soldiers during the Civil War. This lesson seeks to teach fifth grade students not only the skill of analyzing a primary source but also the methods that were utilized to entice free blacks to serve in the Union Army during the war. Students will read and then rewrite a recruitment broadside and then will create a visual that contains four reasons why African Americans should fight in the Civil War.

Introduction

On March 21, 1863, Frederick Douglass asserted that "A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men, calls logically and loudly for colored men to help suppress it." This was but one of the many appeals by Douglass to recruit African American men to join the Union forces. Douglass argued that if black men helped defeat the Confederacy, they would not only end slavery but would be treated equally by whites after the war. His view about equal treatment was overly optimistic but black soldiers' participation did advance the cause of equality. This has been reconfirmed by many modern historians, including Eric Foner, who in a 2001 essay, wrote that "the enlistment of two hundred thousand black men in the Union armed forces during the second half of the war . . . had placed black citizenship on the postwar agenda." During the latter years of the Civil War, several appeals for the enlistment of free African Americans living in the North were disseminated, including the broadside "Men of Color: To Arms! To Arms!" which is featured in this lesson.

Materials

Essential Question

Why did Frederick Douglass and others want free black men to fight on the side of the Union during the Civil War?

Objectives

  • Students will be able to read and analyze a primary source document.
  • Students will be able to define difficult vocabulary words and understand their usage in a historical document.
  • Students will be able to create a visual that describes and illustrates reasons why African Americans should have fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Motivation

Ask students to answer the following prompt on a sticky note: "Should African Americans have fought in the Civil War? Explain." Once students have written their answers, ask them to affix their answers to a continuum drawn on the board that says on one end "strongly disagree" and on the other "strongly agree." Students should place their sticky notes on the place that best describes their opinions.
Discuss different answers.

Lesson Activities

Put students in groups of four. Pass out two-sided copies of the broadside. One side should show the broadside in its original form. The other should contain the typed transcript, which is easier for students to read.

Assign each group a different section of the broadside. Ask group members to read through their section and underline all of the words they do not understand. Groups will then define each word in their notebooks.

The student groups will rewrite their section in no more than three simple sentences.

Each group will choose a representative to present their rewrite to the class. As the students present, the teacher will either type the answer and project it onto a screen or interactive white board, or will write it on a projected overhead transparency, according to the available technology in the classroom. The teacher will leave the projected and rewritten broadside up as the students begin their other tasks.

Pass out the Picture Window Handout. Students will be charged to come up with four reasons why African Americans should have fought in the Civil War, according to the broadside. Students will write one reason in each frame of the window and will illustrate each.

Assessment

Ask students, "would this broadside have convinced you to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War? Why or why not?" The class should discuss the answers that are suggested by students.

Extension

Students can research other recruitment appeals for free African American soldiers and create a PowerPoint presentation that showcases them.

Banking Basics

Introduction

Many elementary school students are unaware of how banks make money and what causes them to fail. This lesson will provide students with a basic understanding of those two issues, linking them to the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Banking Holiday in 1933.

 

Essential Question

  • How do banks make money?
  • What causes banks to fail?
  • How did Franklin Delano Roosevelt try to stem the failure of banks in 1933?

 

Background

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, many banks became insolvent because they were unable to meet the demands for withdrawals that occurred when there was a "run" on banks. Runs on a bank occurred when depositors became worried that banks would fail and that they would lose their money. This happened during the Depression when it was reported that a bank would not get its money back on loans made to farmers, or if a bank had lost money in the stock market. Customers would flock to a bank and demand their savings back. Since banks make money by investing, lending money, and other such means, they did not have the deposits available. When it could meet the demands of its clients, a bank would fail. There people who lost all of their money in a failing bank, since savings were not yet insured by the FDIC. One famous example is Frederick Douglass, who, during Reconstruction, deposited $10,000 into the Freedman's Bank, which later failed. The $10,000, which he had deposited to assure other customers that the bank was safe, was lost in that bank failure.

 

Objectives

  • Students will be able to participate in a simulation of how banks use depositors' money to make a profit and how they can become insolvent.
  • Students will be able to read and analyze a primary source article about bank failures.
  • Students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the intended effects of the 1933 Bank Holiday.

Materials

Motivation

  1. Students will respond to the question: Are banks a safe place to put your money? Why/why not?
  2. After students respond in writing, ask several to share their answers and conduct a brief whole class discussion.

Lesson Activities

Students will participate in a simulation of how banks operate and what causes a run on a bank as follows:

  • What causes a run on a bank?

Simulation

  1. This activity is designed for a class of thirty students, but can be easily adapted. Put three chairs at the front of the room to be used as banks. The bankers will sit there.
  2. Put all student names into a hat. First, draw the three names of the students who will be bankers at their own banks. Instruct them to write down the name of their bank on a sheet of paper and to sit at the front in the three aforementioned chairs.
  3. Draw the names of the rest of the students. The first seven students will be Depositors Group A, the second seven will be Depositors Group B, the third Depositors Group C, and the final six will be Depositors Group D.
  4. Give each of the Depositors $200 in fake money in one hundred dollar bills.
  5. Announce to the class that each Depositor has just earned or saved $200 and will now deposit it into the bank of their choice.
  6. Allow students to get out of their seats and give their money to the banker of their choice. Alternately, the teacher can assign which groups give money to which banks.
  7. After students return to their seats, the teacher should announce that Bank 1 is investing $500 in the stock market because the banker thinks that he/she will make ten percent on the money in a month, so that $500 will become $525. The teacher should then take $500 from Banker 1 and put it into an envelope labeled "STOCK MARKET."
  8. The teacher will then announce that Bank 2 is giving five students $300 each to purchase a Ford Model B, a V-8 car that was very popular in the early 1930s. They sell for anywhere between $450 and $700. The teacher will take $1,500 from Banker 2, put it into an envelope labeled "CAR LOANS," and give five students a toy car. Announce that because the loans were at 20% interest, Banker 2 can expect to make $300 when the loans are repaid.
  9. Ask students, "Who would like to buy a house?" Select one student from the volunteers. Tell that student that her house will cost $7,000. She already has $6,000, but must borrow the other $1,000 from Banker 3. She will have thirty years to pay it back, but must pay 20% interest on the loan each month. The teacher should then take $1,000 from Bank 3, put it in an envelope labeled "MORTGAGE" and give the student buying the house a small house replica (for example, a Monopoly house).
  10. The teacher should ask the Banks to count their money and then tell the class how much they have in their hands.
  11. Ask the Depositors how banks make money. Students should be able to respond that they make money by lending money and putting it into the stock market. Some students will also mention bank fees.
  12. Pass out excerpts of a Time article from 1930 linked above. Students should read the excerpt they have and pretend as though it is a current article.
  13. The teacher should tell the class that he heard in the market that Bank 1 lost a lot of money in the Stock Market Crash and might fail or go out of business as a result. Ask Depositors who used Bank 1 what they are going to do? Have them raise their hands to discuss their options. Allow those students who want to withdraw their $200 from the bank. Widen the discussion to ask the Depositors who used Banks 2 and 3 how they feel and what they think they will do. Allow students to withdraw money if they wish until a bank fails.
  14. After the simulation, post pictures of runs on banks from the Great Depression linked above.
  15. Make a list on the board of how banks make money and what can cause them to fail. The teacher should guide the discussion, but use only student-generated answers on the board.
  16. Ask students how they think bank failures can be stopped. Add those ideas to the list.

Assessment

Read Roosevelt's Bank Holiday speech "On the Bank Crisis" (linked above) to the class as they read along with the written version. In pairs, students should answer the questions on the Banking Worksheet.

Extension

Students will find and summarize a current newspaper or magazine article on failed banks and summarize the article for discussion in class.

What Events Led to Lincoln’s Assassination?

Overview

Fourth-grade students often associate Abraham Lincoln with three things: He wore a tall hat, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and he was assassinated. The murder of Lincoln, whom most historians consider one of the country’s two most important presidents, had major consequences for our nation and for the Reconstruction period that followed the Civil War.

John Wilkes Booth’s premeditated attack was a carefully orchestrated plot involving at least eight other participants. The fact that President Lincoln was shot while enjoying a show at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, leaves students wondering how it could have happened. A week earlier General Lee had surrendered to General Grant. The nation was finally looking forward to peace. Yet out of the shadows came Booth to kill the president, while one of his conspirators attempted to murder the secretary of state.

Students exploring this type of turning point in American history are frequently frustrated by a lack of understanding of the event. While comprehensive answers may never be available to explain how these crimes could have taken place, we can examine the circumstances surrounding them to gather a partial understanding of why they happened.

Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was yet another wound that our country suffered due to the "peculiar institution" of slavery. In studying the Civil War, students will discover that slavery was at the core of the conflict that tore our nation apart and that ultimately killed the sixteenth president. States’ rights, while often cited as the reason why Southern states seceded, masked the political and moral arguments over slavery. Lincoln’s legacy—the abolition of slavery in the United States—was also the cause of his death.

Materials

Primary sources:

Secondary sources include encyclopedias, textbooks, and trade books such as Robert E. Jakoubek’s The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Millbrook Press, 1993).

Objectives

  • Students will identify arguments supporting and opposing the position that Lincoln’s assassination could have been avoided.
  • Students will enhance their research and writing skills as a result of this lesson.

Aim/Essential Question

Using information from given references, including primary sources, find information that will help you answer the question, "What events led to Lincoln’s assassination?"

Activities

  • Work in pairs to locate answers to the questions listed below.
  • Gather information through reading printed material and electronic media.
  • Compose a report (at least 250 words) that answers the questions.
  • Revise and edit the report. Cite sources of information.
  • Review and critically evaluate reports written by peers.
  • Participate in a full-class debate about the essential question.

Motivation

The teacher will distribute the broadside informing the public of Lincoln’s assassination. Following a review of the poster, students will discuss how people might have reacted when they first saw the announcement.

Procedure

  1. Introduce the essential question: What events led to Lincoln’s assassination?
  2. Allow the class to explore this turning point in American history.
  3. Introduce the assignment: Students will work in pairs using available library resources and website documents to find answers to the questions below. The teacher will explain to the students that they will be expected to "think like journalists," meaning that they will read information that will enable them to answer the questions: What? When? Where? Why? and How?
    Questions
    1. Who assassinated Lincoln?
    2. What events preceded the assassination?
    3. Where was Abraham Lincoln killed?
    4. When did this happen?
    5. How did John Wilkes Booth get access to the president?
    6. What reasons did John Wilkes Booth give for wanting to assassinate the president?
  4. Students will share their research findings in small groups. Each student will be responsible for preparing his/her own report. Reports should include footnotes and a bibliography.
  5. Each student will exchange his/her research report with another student. Students will evaluate the reports using the questions cited above as a guide. The teacher will give each paper a numerical grade based on the quality of the information and the writing.

Discussion

After grading the papers, the teacher will lead a discussion on their content and on how they are written. Then the class will be separated into two groups: students who believe the assassination could have been avoided, and students who do not think it could have been prevented. The teacher will follow through by organizing a class debate on the essential question.

Follow-up

Each student should develop five additional questions stemming from the research and the debate. To help students frame the questions, the teacher should ask: What else do you want to know? Where might you find the answers to these new questions?

Application

The teacher will distribute the Frederick Douglass letter to Mary Todd Lincoln following Lincoln’s assassination (GLC02474). Based on this letter the teacher will ask the class to describe Frederick Douglass’s reaction to Lincoln’s assassination. The class will then discuss how Lincoln’s assassination affected the nation.

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