Directions: Use the themes, questions and video clips below to teach and learn with portions of C-SPAN's American Writers program featuring Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address. Link to the complete video clip list to identify clip descriptions and create your own lessons. Each theme contains questions and video clips appropriate for varying grade levels.
Lesson Credit: Curriculum Advisory Team member, Michael Yell.
1. Why is it sometimes said that the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War? Assuming it was a turning point, describe the change that took place. Consider other turning points in the War. Offer and defend your own view about the significance of Gettysburg within the context of the Civil War.
2. What states fought for the Union in the Civil War? Which Southern states left the Union and fought against the Northern states? Compare and contrast the Northern and Southern reasons for engaging in the Civil War.
3. Explain how the issue of slavery impacted the Civil War. Explain what the objections to slavery were, and its defense in the eyes of some Southerners.
4. Was the Civil War inevitable? Defend your point of view with some information from the program.
5. What were the effects of the Civil War? Consider social, cultural, political and economic effects.
1. What was the Gettysburg Address? When was it delivered? Describe its content and its qualities (i.e. short or long; emotional or straightforward, etc.) What did this Address say about the purposes of the Civil War?
2. What were Lincoln's goals with the Address? Draw at least one direct connections with something said and one of Lincoln's goals.
3. Discuss the background of the Address (why Lincoln went, where he stayed, etc.), the reactions to it, as well as some of the "myths" and stories associated with it.
4. Make some general observations about the impact the written or spoken word can have in waging a war. What conditions are necessary for words to have an impact? What did the Gettysburg Address fail to accomplish?
5. Break the Address into its three main parts and rewrite the sections for a modern audience. Read and discuss your interpretation with others.
1. What was Abraham Lincoln's background before the presidency? What about his early life offers insight into his presidency?
2. Describe Lincon as a president. In what ways could his behavior be described as "presidential?" In what instances was he less conventional?
3. What was Lincoln trying to tell the nation in the Gettysburg Address? To what degree did his job as president inspire him in the Address? How did he use his powers as Commander in Chief to influence the outcome of the war?
4. Compare and contrast how Northerners and Southerners may have differed in their reactions to President Lincoln. How did the varying perceptions of Lincoln contribute to his success or failure as president?
5. What lessons does Lincoln have to offer other presidents or leaders?