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Teaching the Causes of the American Civil War, 1850-1861


Edited By Michael E. Karpyn

The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865, killing nearly 700,000 Americans and costing the country untold millions of dollars. The events of this tragic war are so steeped in the collective memory of the United States and so taken for granted that it is sometimes difficult to take a step back and consider why such a tragic war occurred. To consider the series of events that led to this war are difficult and painful for students and teachers in American history classrooms. Classroom teachers must possess the appropriate pedagogical and historical resources to provide their students with an appropriate and meaningful examination of this challenging time period. Teaching the Causes of the American Civil War, 18501861 will attempt to provide these resources and teaching strategies to allow for the thoughtful inquiry, evaluation and assessment of this critical, complex and painful time period in American history.

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Resources for Classroom Teachers (Caroline R. Pryor, Charlotte Johnson, Whitney Blankenship / Amy Wilkinson)


Caroline R. Pryor, Charlotte Johnson, Whitney Blankenship and Amy Wilkinson

This volume, Teaching the Causes of the American Civil War 1850–1861, begins with the proposition that defining (and codifying) U.S. civil rights is central to understanding the antecedents of the war and the depth of emotion these definitions engender. This chapter provides resources that can help readers make sense of these rights; the list is not exhaustive rather it is a synthesis of resources we have found user-friendly in developing lesson plans. Several of these resources are composed of a deep scaffolding of information. Thus, planning for lessons can involve, for example—viewing the main page of the Library of Congress ( and searching within these pages for Teacher Materials or topical units. We have categorized the resources by genre—books, websites, standards, lesson plan information, videos and other materials.

Our goal in developing this resource chapter is to augment the topics of the volume as presented by the essay authors. We also provide these resources so teachers can extend the ideas suggested by the chapter subheadings typically found in classroom textbooks. Thus, while this chapter includes resources that regard historical events, we suggest the need for a range of complexity in how we use our teaching sources—so these challenge broad student and teacher perspective.

For example, we suggest here that the very act of resource selection might indeed foster and/or is dependent upon the belief that a primary source...

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