Teaching Students About the Election Of Lincoln

Teaching students about the election of Abraham Lincoln is crucial for understanding the history of the United States and the factors that led to the Civil War. Lincoln’s election in 1860 was a turning point in American history, highlighting important issues such as slavery, states’ rights, and secession. This article will provide guidance on teaching students about this momentous event and its impact on the country.

1. Setting the Stage: Pre-Election Background

Begin by explaining the political, social, and economic context that preceded Lincoln’s election. Discuss how regional tensions in America escalated due to contrasting viewpoints on slavery and states’ rights between North and South. Explain how these disagreements resulted in growing calls for secession in the South, which eventually led to the formation of the Confederate States of America.

2. The Candidates and Their Platforms

After establishing the pre-election background, introduce your students to the four main presidential candidates in 1860: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John Bell, and John Breckinridge. Discuss their respective platforms on key issues like slavery, secession, and preserving the Union.

Emphasize that Lincoln’s victory was largely due to his anti-slavery stance and dedication to keeping the country united. Highlight any campaign events or speeches that are especially illustrative of these perspectives.

3. Election Day: Outcomes and Ripple Effects

Once you’ve covered each candidate’s platform, outline the actual course of events on election day. Explain how Lincoln won a majority of electoral votes despite receiving less than 40% of the popular vote (due to divisions among his opponents). Emphasize that his election led South Carolina and eventually other southern states to secede from the Union.

4. The Secession Crisis and Civil War

Discuss how Lincoln’s election precipitated a national crisis, with an increasingly divided country eventually leading to war. Teach students about the key events in the months following the election, such as Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address and the attack on Fort Sumter.

5. Evaluating Lincoln: His Election and Legacy

As a culminating exercise, have your students evaluate Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and legacy in light of his electoral victory in 1860. Discuss his role as a leader during one of America’s most tumultuous periods and explore how his election both aggravated existing tensions and helped bring an end to slavery.

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