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Ch 9: Buildup to the American Civil War: Middle School Lesson Plans

About This Chapter

The Buildup to the American Civil War chapter of this course is designed to help you plan and teach about pre-Civil War America in your classroom. The video lessons, quizzes and transcripts can easily be adapted to provide your lesson plans with engaging and dynamic educational content. Make planning your course easier by using our syllabus as a guide.

Weekly Syllabus

Below is a sample breakdown of the Buildup to the American Civil War chapter into a 5-day school week. Based on the pace of your course, you may need to adapt the lesson plan to fit your needs.

DayTopicsKey Terms and Concepts Covered
Monday Slavery in America during the 1850s Balance of power among free and pro-slave states and the Fugitive Slave Act;
Influence of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin;
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, including the causes of 'Bloody Kansas'
TuesdayConflict over slaveryThe debate over slavery, including the Supreme Court's Dred Scott vs. Sanford decision;
Abolitionist John Brown's attack on a United States arsenal
WednesdayThe Lincoln-Douglas senatorial debates of 1858The issue of slavery during the Illinois senatorial debates, including the positions of Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln
ThursdayPresidential election of 1860 Election of Abraham Lincoln, establishment of the Confederate States of America and the southern secession
FridayBeginning of the Civil WarThe Battle at Fort Sumter, including events and consequences

7 Lessons in Chapter 9: Buildup to the American Civil War: Middle School Lesson Plans
Uncle Tom's Cabin and Tension Over Slavery in the 1850s

1. Uncle Tom's Cabin and Tension Over Slavery in the 1850s

Uncle Tom's Cabin captured the plight of slaves in the 1850s like no other book. The novel, coupled with the Missouri Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act, served to further strain the country, which was at a breaking point over the issue of slavery. This lesson details these events.

Bloody Kansas: Causes, Effects and Summary of Events

2. Bloody Kansas: Causes, Effects and Summary of Events

The events in the Kansas territory were a microcosm of the violent forces shaping the United States in the decade of the 1850s, forces that would ultimately lead to a disintegration of the Union itself. This lesson details what has come to be known as Bleeding Kansas and its impact on the issue of slavery.

Dred Scott v. Sanford and President Buchanan

3. Dred Scott v. Sanford and President Buchanan

The Dred Scott decision was one of the most important turning points in the debate over slavery in the United States. It came during the presidency of James Buchanan, a man well qualified but ill suited for the job of keeping the nation together. This lesson discusses both as we attempt to understand the dynamics that led to the American Civil War.

John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry: Fighting Slavery

4. John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry: Fighting Slavery

John Brown was a man of strong convictions - so strong that he was willing to fight, to kill, and to die for them. These abolitionist beliefs led him from Kansas to Virginia, where he would pay the ultimate price. This lesson tells that story.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Summary & Significance

5. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858: Summary & Significance

In an effort to secure their own appointments to the U.S. Senate, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas squared off in a series of seven debates in 1858. Find out why Douglas might have won in the short term but Lincoln won in the long term.

Lincoln's Election, Southern Secession & the New Confederacy

6. Lincoln's Election, Southern Secession & the New Confederacy

Learn about how Abraham Lincoln's election in the contentious 1860 presidential race set off a domino effect leading to the secession of South Carolina and six other states and the formation of the Confederate States of America.

The Battle of Fort Sumter & the Start of the Civil War

7. The Battle of Fort Sumter & the Start of the Civil War

South Carolina's attack on a U.S. military outpost triggered the American Civil War. Learn more about the Battle of Fort Sumter and the consequences of the fort's surrender to the Confederacy.

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