Abraham Lincoln and Executive Power

This lesson traces the rise of Abraham Lincoln from his humble beginnings to the presidency. It examines Lincoln’s ideas and decisions regarding slavery and the use of presidential power to preserve the Union during the Civil War. After the lesson, students should be able to explain how Lincoln overcame daunting disadvantages to become a great president, analyze and evaluate his decisions in response the critical constitutional issues of the Civil War, and understand and appreciate his legacy to American constitutionalism and citizenship.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10

Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation eLesson

To remember Abraham Lincoln, who died 148 years ago on April 15, 1865, this week’s eLesson will focus on the Emancipation Proclamation. Presidents Buchanan, Lincoln, and Johnson believed that the Constitution protected the institution of slavery. Lincoln came to the conclusion that, in order to preserve the Constitution and the Union it created, he must apply a new understanding of the principles on which the nation was built.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the issue of slavery divided the Democratic Party and newly formed Republican Party. One of the most prominent Democrats was the U.S. Senator from Illinois Stephen Douglas. When he ran for re-election in 1858 against Republican Abraham Lincoln, the two men held a series of debates. In the activity, students read statements made by Douglas in the debates, discuss how Lincoln would respond, and create responses to each statement.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Lincoln and the “Writ of Liberty”

The actual right of habeas corpus is not stated anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The authors of these documents apparently believed that habeas corpus was such a fundamental liberty that it needed no further guarantee in writing. The only mention of the writ of habeas corpus in the Constitution relates to when it can be taken away from judges. On September 24, 1862, Lincoln issued a proclamation unprecedented in American history. He suspended the writ of liberty everywhere in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Abraham Lincoln’s Fragment of the Constitution & the Union (1861): The Purpose of the Union

This lesson will examine Abraham Lincoln’s brief but insightful reflection on the importance of the ideal of individual liberty to the constitutional structure and operation of the American union.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The March on Washington

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most historic moments in United States history – the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On August 28, 1963, approximately 250,000 people participated in the march, which is considered to be one of the largest peaceful political rallies for human rights in history. Among other events, the march participants gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Natural Rights, Citizenship Rights, State Rights, and Black Rights: Another Look at Lincoln and Race

In the real world, the ability of free blacks to enjoy their natural rights and exercise the privileges and immunities of citizenship depended on the states where they actually lived. When those states imposed a raft of legal discriminations on free blacks they cheapened the meaning of freedom and discounted the value of citizenship. I suspect this bothered Lincoln, but it wasn’t his issue. It would take other men and women, and another century of struggle, before “states rights” was abolished.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

“I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his address on his vision for the future of America regarding race equality. The speech was to emphasize the importance of this movement. 100 years before, Lincoln gave his Emancipation speech and 200 years earlier the Declaration of Independence was signed. Now it is time to end oppression in America for good.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12