- To what degree did each of the following inform the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson: custom, precedent, and federalism?
- How did President Andrew Johnson interpret the Constitution with respect to restoring the Union after the Civil War?
- Students will explore the Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson and evaluate its impact and legacy.
- Students will analyze President Johnson’s plans for restoration of the Union following the Civil War and assess their effectiveness.
- Handouts C-I Answer Keys
- Handout J: Andrew Johnson and the Civil War Amendments Answer Key
- Handout K: Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress Answer Key
- Handout L: Analyzing Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress Answer Key
- Civil War and Reconstruction Essay
- Handout A: The United States Constitution
- Handout B: Plessy v. Ferguson Case Background
- Handout C: The Declaration, the Constitution, and Personhood
- Handout D: Thomas Jefferson Note and Letter
- Handout E: Amendments and Federalism
- Handout F: The Legacy of Plessy
- Handout G: Plessy v. Ferguson Majority Opinion
- Handout H: Plessy v. Ferguson Dissenting Opinion
- Handout I: Document Analysis Form
- Handout J: Andrew Johnson and the Civil War Amendments
- Handout K: Andrew Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress
- Handout L: Analyzing Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress
- Thirteenth Amendment
- Declaration of Independence
- Fourteenth Amendment
- due process
- James Madison
- Fifteenth Amendment
- Thomas Jefferson
Have students read the Civil War and Reconstruction Essay.
Post the Critical Question on the board: Evaluate the degree to which each of the following informed the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson: custom, precedent, and understanding of federalism. Review, with students, the meaning of the terms “custom,” “precedent”, and “federalism”. Distribute Handout A: The United States Constitution for student reference throughout the lesson.
Introduce the critical question (at top). To support students as they begin their analysis, ask:
- What are the two sides?
- What did each side want?
Activity 1: Plessy v. Ferguson [30 minutes]
Distribute Handouts C – H. Divide the class into six groups and assign each group the task of reading their assigned documents and answering the related questions. Assign documents as follows:
- Group 1: Handout C: The Declaration, the Constitution, and Personhood
- Group 2: Handout D: Thomas Jefferson Note and Letter
- Group 3: Handout E: Amendments and Federalism
- Group 4: Handout F: The Legacy of Plessy
- Group 5: Handout G: Plessy v. Ferguson Majority Opinion
- Group 6: Handout H: Plessy v. Ferguson Dissenting Opinion
Allow time for groups to read and discuss their assigned documents. Once students begin completing their reading and answering questions, distribute Handout I: Document Analysis Form. Have Group 1 report the results of their reading and answers to the related questions analysis, allowing other students in the class to complete their copies of Handout I. Repeat with the remaining groups, allowing time for discussion that helps students to make connections among the documents.
Point out the Critical Question earlier posted in the classroom: “Evaluate the degree to which each of the following informed the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson: custom, precedent, and understanding of federalism.” Lead a large-group discussion of this question.
Activity 2: Andrew Johnson’s Interpretation of the Constitution [30 minutes]
Critical Question: How did President Andrew Johnson interpret the Constitution with respect to restoring the Union after the Civil War?
To provide background, have students read Handout J: Andrew Johnson and the Civil War Amendments and answer the questions. Discuss the questions as a large group.
Distribute Handout K: Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress. Depending on students’ grade-level and abilities, consider conducting a “think-aloud” reading of the first section.
Assign students to pairs or groups of three to read Handout K and to discuss and write answers to the related questions.
Distribute Handout L: Analyzing Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress. Have students work in their pairs or small groups to analyze Handout K by completing Handout L. Have students jigsaw into new groups to share their responses to each section of Handout L.
Reconvene and conduct a large group discussion of the reading-related questions and an analysis of Johnson’s First Annual Message to Congress. Conclude by discussing:
- Why do you think Johnson’s plans for “restoration” failed?
- Were his objections to the forced ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment legitimate? Why or why not?
- In your opinion, did Johnson correctly understand and interpret the Constitution?
Have students respond to one or both of the Critical Questions in the form of a well-organized essay that incorporates their interpretations of the documents.
Assign a response paper as follows: Analyze the Fourteenth Amendment and select one of the following statements, then use one of those statements as the basis for a thesis statement and a response paragraph.
- The Fourteenth Amendment radically altered the Constitution.
- The Fourteenth Amendment merely emphasized principles that were already in the Constitution.
The Civil Rights Movement
Plessy v. Ferguson | BRI’s Homework Help Series
How did the odious doctrine of “separate but equal” become legally permissible in the U.S.? This Homework Help narrative explores the story of the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case.