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

Presidents Day Lesson Plans & Resources

Presidents Day was originally established in 1885 as “Washington’s Birthday” to celebrate President George Washington’s birthday on February 22. In 1971, the federal government renamed the holiday Presidents Day in order to honor all U.S. presidents, past and present. Share My Lesson has curated a collection of free lesson plans, educational resources and classroom materials on the accomplishments of U.S. presidents, first ladies, and the role and responsibilities of the president in government and in a democracy.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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

The American Presidency: Core Documents

This collection of documents on the presidency begins with Alexander Hamilton’s commentary on the sections of the Constitution related to the executive branch and ends with President Barack Obama’s address to the nation defending his interpretation of executive authority under the Constitution to use force against the Syrian regime. The documents cover the executive’s role and the specific topics of presidential selection, term limits, and impeachment.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 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

Mandate: The President and the People

The complex relationship between the presidency and public opinion is examined by leading historians, political scientists and public figures who also offer insight into the office and its occupants from George Washington to FDR.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Commemorating Presidents’ Day Resources

Teach your high school students about the constitutional legacy of George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan this Presidents’ Day. These free, ready-to-use lessons will engage your students in learning about these important presidents and how they shaped the history and Constitution of our nation. Each lesson was written and reviewed by scholars and contains questions to test student knowledge.

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