Abraham Lincoln Lesson Plans
This group of four lessons examines key subjects and events in Lincoln’s lifetime: slavery; his election in 1860; the Emancipation Proclamation and black soldiers in the Union army; and his assassination. Each lesson includes high-quality reproductions of images and documents from the Museum’s collection as well as background information, analysis questions, instructional strategies, and extension activities. Adapt the materials to best meet the needs of your students and share them with other educators.
Every lesson plan contains an analysis worksheet, which is also available in Spanish.
A House Divided: Slavery in the United States
Slavery was the most explosive issue in the 1850s, when Lincoln rose to political prominence. This lesson asks students to analyze two broadsides—one advertising a slave auction and the other inviting people to attend an antislavery meeting—and participate in a simulated abolitionist meeting.
This short history soundscape suggests the environment of a slave auction.
The Union is Perpetual: Lincoln is Elected
In 1860, Lincoln won the presidency in a hotly contested election. Using four primary sources (two visual and two written), students explore popular reaction—both favorable and unfavorable—to Lincoln’s candidacy and election.
This short history soundscape portrays the scene of one of Lincoln’s campaign rallies.
A New Birth of Freedom: Black Soldiers in the Union Army
A series of military failures put enormous pressure on Lincoln to rethink his war strategy and his views on slavery. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared immediate freedom for more than three million African American slaves and authorized the enlistment of black soldiers into the Union army. In this lesson, students explore the contributions of black soldiers in the Union forces by examining a recruitment poster, a photograph, and excerpts from Frederick Douglass’s speeches.
This short history soundscape sets the scene of African Americans enlisting in the Union Army.
With Malice Toward None: Lincoln’s Assassination
In his last public address, Lincoln spoke about the challenges of reconstruction and endorsed limited black suffrage. Among those in attendance was John Wilkes Booth. Three days later, Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Using primary sources, students examine the search for and arrest of Booth and create a breaking news report of the unfolding events.
This short history soundscape sets the scene of Lincoln’s assassination.