everyone agrees that Abraham Lincolnís Emancipation Proclamation is a
fundamental document of American freedom.
Nonetheless, the Proclamation, first announced on September 22,
1862 and effective January 1, 1863, has been the subject of historical
debate ever since. Some of
the debate focuses on the circumstances that led Lincoln to issue the
document. Historians ask
what he hoped to accomplish, why the policy took the format of a
presidential proclamation, why it was issued at that particular time,
why its application was limited, and what it accomplished, if anything.
this exercise, we will focus on the circumstances leading Lincoln to
announce the Emancipation Proclamation.
Students will be divided into five teams, which will each focus
on one of the following answers to that question.
doing the assigned readings, each student will write a two-page
paper defending the point of view of his or her group.
The paper must be cited (in the format assigned by the teacher)
and must rely solely on the primary source material provided for this
activity from the Lincoln and Civil War collection.
the papers have been written, graded, and returned, the five groups
will meet as a team for one period.
Together, students in each group will decide on the evidence
that most strongly makes their case.
teacher will then assign each student in every group a number from 1
Then, all the 1ís, all the 2ís, all the 3ís, all the
4ís, and all the 5's will meet.
The result will be five groups, each of which has students
representing the Military Necessity, Revolution from Below, Higher
Law, Diplomatic Considerations, and Long-Term Process perspectives.
These new groups will meet for one period or, if necessary, a
period and a half.
The teacher may choose for the students to (a) simply argue
from their differing viewpoints or (b) agree on the most valid of the
student will write a final report (the length determined by the
teacher), which declares, explains, and supports with evidence and
logic the studentís judgment about why President Abraham Lincoln
issued the Emancipation Proclamation.