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The Civil War BEGINS! For my in class historians in Friday, November 17

We know the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861.  But why? And what was the impact of the events at Ft. Sumter?  Take a look here, and check out the CWPT overview of the first battle of the conflict and another great overview from the History Channel.

And now … on to the War!

Experts make a lot of money (and get a lot of attention) predicting the outcome of events – such as football games, horse races, and presidential elections. It’s a process commonly known as handicapping, and they do it by examining all of the data about two sides, both tangible and intangible, and using that information to develop an educated guess about the result of a contest. Even though we know the result of the Civil War, it doesn’t hurt to look at the two sides before the war begins to see the strengths and weaknesses of each side. To do so, complete “Handicapping the Civil War” DOCX  using the materials below.


Looking for some info on the strategy of both sides on the even of the war? Check out Civil War Strategy for more info to add to your notes.

Then … make a claim! What does all of this info mean? We will see how the war evolves, based on your predictions.



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Ready to show what you know, young Civil War historians? You will have a 25 minute quiz on Monday concerning the targets below:

I can use perspective to explain how events between the Compromise of 1850 and the Election of 1860 led to the secession of southern states.
I can explain varying interpretations of the long term causes of the Civil War and evaluate the importance of slavery as a principal cause of the conflict.

What should you study? Simple – The Edge of the Precipice notes and reading, Why the Civil War activity, and the ideas presented in the Secession intro from Doc. (Basically – why did seven Southern states secede?)

Think there will be a big section on the election of 1860? Yes, there will. Guaranteed because it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN AMERICAN HISTORY (hand slam)!

Here are a bunch of awesome resources if you need more info – great stuff online about the coming of the Civil War!

And … here is a tired tired Taft babbling his way through a review (I do like to talk about this stuff!)


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The Edge of the Precipice … in Wisconsin?

While all of this “Edge of the Precipice: craziness was going on across the map of the United States in the 1850 … what was happening on America’s Dairyland? You should find out a little bit about what Wisconsin was thinking while the controversy escalated.  To do so, check out the Joshua Glover Podcast, and this little video from Wisconsin Media Labs.  You can also check out how Wisconsin discussed secession – Governor Randal was all for it – and how a shipwreck changed Milwaukee.

There are a ton of cool local sites for Civil War History Rules pics … take a trip and shoot a few shots of you with a History Rules sign!

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Why the Civil War? Learning Experience for November 15

After the election of Abraham Lincoln (THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN AMERICAN HISTORY), seven sates secede from the United States and created their own country – the Confederate States of America.You will examine this decision in Doc’s class by looking at actual secession statements, and it seems pretty cut and dry, doesn’t it? Still, there is a big question that is prominent the news today.

 What caused the Civil War?

You will examine the primary sources (THROUGH THEIR EYES) in Doc’s class by looking at actual secession statements, and it seems pretty cut and dry, doesn’t it?  However, with all of that information still available, historians have debated over the years about the exact causes of the Civil War.  What do the historians say? Your task is to read some brief statements from historians in the Why the Civil War? activity and examine their varying opinions.  It’s a collection of statements about different historical perspectives on the coming of the war.  Read each carefully, underline up to eight (8) important words, and summarize each selection in  ONE COMPLETE SENTENCE.  Do the historians agree with the documents? The assignment is much easier (and more fun) if you complete it with a partner. Yup – that means talk about it!

And then … watch these …

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Learning Experience – More of THE EDGE OF THE PRECIPICE

Hopefully you understand the challenges of the time, Senators, and realize that the nation is teetering on the “Edge of the Precipice”. You can review today’s activities and continue moving forward with some statements by using the reading from class and some of the following resources:

The Compromise of 1850 and Fugitive Slave Act

The History Channel’s Compromise of 1850  /  Our Documents – Compromise of 1850 (1850) / The Compromise of 1850 from The Omaha Project / The Fugitive Slave Act from the History Channel

The Kansas Nebraska Act –

The History Channel’s Kansas and Nebraska Act / a flash video from / KS NE Act from the History Place / Our Documents – KansasNebraska Act (1854) from Our Docs /


The Dred Scott Decision

-The History Channel’s Dred Scott Case /  an online exhibition from Gilder Lehrman / Our Documents – Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) / from the Jefferson Expansion Memorial/

The Lincoln Douglas Debates

– The History Channel’s Lincoln-Douglas Debates /  Want to see an old re-enactment? / How about a recent one? /

Harpers’ Ferry 

an overview from VOA / Harpers Ferry from PBS / an overview and video from the John Brown Wax Museum – an NHD video – yikes! / John Brown – with a hanging reenactment?

The Election of 1860

The Most Consequential Elections in History: Abraham Lincoln in 1860 /


Edge of the Precipice 2017
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Learning Experience November 3 – Abolition

I can discuss and evaluate the various efforts of abolitionists in the antebellum era.

How did the movement to end slavery begin?  What were some of the ideas and methods of the major abolitionists?  What was the impact of the abolition movement?  All good questions, right?

To examine the development and tactics of the Abolition Movement, your challenge is to use the resources on The Abolition Seminar from NEH to come up with original claim responses to research questions. Support each claim response with general (your words) and specific (quoted words) evidence from source. Try to have at least one general and one specific piece of evidence for each – and maybe limit yourself to three pieces of evidence? Make sure your evidence matches your claim. Use the example as a guide.

*Also, if you find ANY examples of the TLAH areas, note them in a comment. And – look for some POWER LINES!

This can be found on Google Classroom – please submit it when you are done!


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Learning Experience November 1/2 – RESISTANCE

“Slaves ‘naturally’ resisted their enslavement because slavery was fundamentally unnatural.” Franklin W. Wright

NOTE – Please view and read with maturity and respect, as there are mature ideas and derogatory terms in the primary materials of the time.

How did enslaved persons respond to their life in bondage? It’s one of the most common questions asked by students – so let’s see if we can find some answers. Check out 3 Major Ways Slaves Showed Resistance to Slavery from, the first part of Anti-Slavery Resistance Movement from Boundless,  Slave Resistance from the National Humanities Center and Slave Resistance and Revolts from Digital History to find out how enslaved people responded to their situation. The videos below also discuss various forms of resistance.

One of the most commonly studied forms of resistance was the Underground Railroad, which extended into Wisconsin and is commemorated downtown with the story of Joshua Glover. Scholastic has a great site called “The Underground Railroad – Escape from Slavery”. Take a look at the sections called “Escape!” and “Reaching Safety” to get a better idea about what the trip was like and what happened once the runaways made it to the North. Finally, make sure you read over the “Myths of the Underground Railroad” .

Resistance could be a great narrow topic for a Found Poem – right?  If you want, take careful notes, pull out some power lines, and develop a great collection for your creative display of understanding about this dark yet powerful aspect of America’s story.

Keep adding to our bulletin board of questions!

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Visual Analysis of Antebellum Slavery

Use the techniques we discussed and modeled in class to examine the additional visuals concerning the growth of slavery in the US during the antebellum era.  The necessary visuals are in the presentation below (maximize for the best use) and also this set of documents. When you are done, you can check your responses with the key.

By Tuesday of next week, you should also take the online visual analysis quiz, which will serve as your target assessment for “I can analyze graphical information to successfully extract information and make accurate observations. ” If you don’t do well the first time, double check it and do it again!


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In class November 1-2 – COTTON

“The most important determinant of American history in the nineteenth century.” – Historian Gene Dattel

Eli Whitney’s Cotton Gin Patent

Cotton Gin – Eli Whitney from Have Fun With History

The Spread of Cotton and Slavery from the University of Oregon

The Role Cotton Played in the 1800s Economy by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Cotton from PBS The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr

Cotton from Slavery and the Making of America




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