Simulation activity that will help students to better understand the increasing sectionalism in the United States before the Civil War.
The class will imagine a hearing that never happened, in which abolitionist John Brown’s actions to lead a slave revolt are reviewed by Congress. In reality, John Brown was executed, but this hearing will give him a chance to live, as well as give the class a chance to better understand the historical context of his actions.
Groups will research their assigned role in order to take a stance on sectionalism, States’ rights, abolition, and John Brown’s actions.
John Brown and 2 of his partners (John Copeland and Shields Green)
Southern states’ rights senators
Southern Plantation owners
Pro-slavery residents of Kansas
Supreme Court justices who ruled against Dred Scott
Northern federalist senators
Abolitionist Residents of Kansas
I would recommend 1-2 days of research with regular check-ins with each group and then one day for the hearing itself.
1. Hearing assignment sheet with a description of the activity, debate questions, and a short background of the issues during the 1850s.
2. Group desk placards to be placed during the hearing so that groups know who they are hearing from and arguing with.
3. Power Point Presentation with an overview of the activity as well as additional background information for the class.
4. Hearing rubric to use in assessing individual students during the hearing
5. Supplemental materials to provide for the students as they research:
a. Links to historical websites
b. Primary source documents
c. Quotes by and about John Brown