- Did President Abraham Lincoln have the constitutional power to free the slaves in the Confederacy?
- Trace the development of Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation
- Analyze the Proclamation’s significance as a turning point in the development of the nation.
- Evaluate Lincoln’s understanding of the Emancipation y Proclamation as “an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity.”
• Handout A: Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation
• Handout B: Setting the Scene
To create a context for this lesson, students complete Constitutional Connection: Slavery and the Constitution.
Have students read Handout A: Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation and answer the questions.
Students who are not familiar with the document should also read the Emancipation Proclamation. This document can be found at www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured-documents/emancipation-proclamation/transcript.html.
Have four students perform the dialogue on Handout B: Setting the Scene to introduce the lesson.
ACTIVITY I [15 MINUTES]
A. Have students work in small groups to discuss their answers to the questions on Handout A.
B. Reconvene the class and have groups report their answers. Continue the discussion and evaluate the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Was it a turning point in the development of the nation? If so, how?
ACTIVITY II [20 MINUTES]
A. Have students work with a partner to write a brief dialog in which “James” and “William,” who were in the crowd at Lincoln’s inauguration, meet again later to discuss and evaluate the Lincoln presidency. Divide the class so that a few students write about such a meeting on each of the following dates: May, 1863; May, 1864; May, 1865.
B. Ask for volunteers to perform their dialogues for the class. After at least one group from each date has performed, debrief the class on their impression of the evolving nature of Lincoln’s views.
Write the following lines from the Emancipation Proclamation on the board:
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In a large group discussion, ask students to what degree was the Proclamation:
- an act of justice?
- warranted by the Constitution?
- a military necessity?
Have students read the following quotation from Lincoln’s Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862, and write two paragraphs explaining the meaning of the following phrases: “We cannot escape history,” and “the last best hope of Earth.”
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present… Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history… In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of Earth.
Have students conduct additional research on Lincoln and his times. Make a timeline to reflect additional significant constitutional questions that arose during the Lincoln presidency. Consider such issues as suspension of habeas corpus, presidential pardons, and separation of powers as the President and Congress planned for Reconstruction. Students may begin their research at: lincoln.lib.niu.edu/chronology/abraham_lincoln_chronology.html.
Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Justice
In this lesson, students will learn about Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Students will specifically learn about how Lincoln’s actions conform to the idea of justice and how they can apply this idea into actions in their own lives.
Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation
This Presidents and the Constitution e-lesson focuses on Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. Though he had always hated slavery, President Lincoln did not believe the Constitution gave him the authority to bring it to an end-until it became necessary to free the slaves in order to save the Union.
Abraham Lincoln’s Political Philosophy with Lucas Morel | BRI Scholar Talks
What constitutional principles comprised Lincoln’s political philosophy? In this Scholar Talk video, BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams sits down with Lucas Morel, Professor of Politics at Washington & Lee University, to discuss Morel's new book, "Lincoln and the American Founding." Morel explains how the natural rights republicanism of the Declaration of Independence and the principles of the Constitution formed the foundation of Lincoln’s political philosophy. This philosophy also shaped Lincoln’s statesmanship regarding the moral evil of slavery. What is the relationship between political ideas and actions in pursuit of justice, and which civic virtues are necessary for a principled leader to rule justly?
Jon Schaff: Lincoln & Civic Virtue | BRI Scholar Talks
BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams sits down with Jon Schaff, author and Northern State University professor of government, to discuss Lincoln's respect for civic virtues and why they are so important in a democracy. Schaff reviews the relationship between civic virtues and efficient political processes, emphasizing the importance of civil discourse. What are the dangers of passions in creating lawlessness and tyranny? And why are restraint, moderation, and prudence essential traits for a good ruler to possess? Schaff is the author of "Abraham Lincoln's Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy" and "Age of Anxiety: Meaning, Identity, and Politics in 21st-Century Film and Literature." About Jon Schaff: Professor Schaff is a professor of government at Northern State University and specializes in the study of American political thought and institutions. He has published on the presidency and political thought of Abraham Lincoln, politics and literature, and politics and popular culture. He has been a department chair and faculty athletic representative and has received the Outstanding Faculty Award from NSU.