Engage your students in this in-depth simulation in which historical figures are called to testify before a congressional committee exploring the causes of the Civil War. When considering what caused the Civil War, the renowned historian Edward Ayers stated "slavery and freedom remain the keys to understanding the war, but they are the place to begin our questions, not to end them." Through this simulation, students have the opportunity to see how the debate over slavery touched all aspects of life from cultural to political along with westward expansion and the increasingly diverging economic identities of the North and South. Working in teams, students represent the viewpoint of a historical figure by either portraying the figure, serving as his or her legal counsel, or by being a favorable role on the congressional committee, which directs the inquiry of the represented figures. In their teams, students seek to expose the reasons why slavery caused the Civil War through various perspectives.
This simulation includes think-aloud testimonies of 10 different historical figures (ranging from John Brown to Mary Boykin Chestnut), scaffolds for each role within student teams, a rubric that accounts for each team role, a teacher lesson plan, and project introduction. Serves as a great culminating activity to a unit studying the causes of the Civil War!
Looking for more lessons on the Antebellum Era? Check out "Interactive Timeline of the Causes of the Civil War
" or "The Rise of Sectionalism: Debating Antebellum Economic Policy