Lesson: Lesson 3: A Southern Perspective Before the Civil War

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Lesson Objective

By the end of the lesson, SWBAT to explain what the common Southern perspective was before the Civil War.

Lesson Plan

 Key points:

·       Southerners saw slavery as a necessary thing in order to keep their plantations a live and profitable.

·       Southerners were not happy with the big tariff, taxes, because they caused everything to be really expensive for them.

·       The South argued that the State’s should be more powerful because the Federal government’s laws did not help them.


·       Tariffs, Taxes, State’s Rights, South, North, Slavery

Essential Questions:

·                             How did the differences between the North and South create conflict and war between the two regions?

·                              What rights does slavery take away from people?

·       How does slavery violate the Bill of Rights?

Assessment: At the end of the lesson, Ss will write an article to a Northern newspaper: “Pretend you are a Southern plantation owner, write an article explaining why slavery should not be outlawed. Students will also be required to fill out a worksheet about the “Southern math activity” that they will complete during guided practice.

Standard: SS5H1 The student will explain the causes, major events, and consequences of the

Civil War.

Opening (10 minutes):


·       Teacher will put the following sentence on the board to get students’ minds warmed up and thinking: “Have you ever done something for money you know was wrong?”

·       T will ask the Ss to write their responses down on a piece of paper

·       T will ask the Ss to work quietly.

·       T will tell the Ss to share their responses with the class.

·       T will then preview the lesson by explaining that in today’s lesson we are going to learn the Southern perspective on Slavery and state’s rights.

·       T will have the students pull out their KWL chart that they have added to in each of the preceding lessons.

·       T will have the students add a bullet or two to the section, “what do you know?” “what do you want to learn?”


·       Students will sit down at their appropriate seats

·       Students will work through the sponge independently

·       Students will fill out their KWL charts.

·       Students will call out there answers. 

Materials: Paper, Pencil, KWL charts

Introduction to New Material (25 minutes):


·       T will explain that last lesson we learned about abolitionists and their movement to end slavery in America,

·       T will explain that the abolitionist views were largely held by those people in the North not in the South

·       T will show a PowerPoint on the South’s perspective in the mid 1800’s.

·       T will emphasize that the Southern states wanted more state’s rights because they felt that the Federal government was not working for them, and instead hurting them. Ie: a high tariff on imported goods.

·       T will explain that John C. Calhoun was a major proponent of state’s rights, he was a sectionalist.

·       T will also explain that while the North was full of factories, the South was very agricultural. Therefore, the South needed a lot of manual labor. Also, the price of cotton was still pretty low so even though the plantations were big, they didn’t make a lot of money. Slavery kept their costs down because they didn’t have to pay for labor.

·       T will tell the Ss that this is how the Southerners justified slavery. They also said that slaves had a good life because they were fed, clothed, and they didn’t have to worry about food or shelter.

·       T will also explain that production on plantations increased with increased demand for cotton.

·       T will ask the Ss to fill out their graphic organizers that correspond to the PowerPoint


·       Students will pay attention to the Power Point presentation

·       Students will ask any questions concerning the Southern perspective

·       Students will fill out their graphic organizers.

Materials: LCD (Technology infusion), graphic organizer

Guided Practice (20 minutes):


·       T will go through a math problem that corresponds to a mock budget of a plantation.

·       T will explain that selling the cotton brought in money, but because of high tariffs and low cotton prices, the amount of cotton that a farmer needed to sell in order to make a net profit was high.

·       T will explain that these restraints made the budgets tight for many Southerners.

·       T will have the Ss do the Math on the potential money that a Southerner could have made with slavery and without slavery.

·       T will start the exercise by having the students make as many tally marks as they can in 30 seconds. After making the tally marks, T will tell the students that each tally represents one acre of cotton sold!

·       T will have the students do the figure out how much potential profit they could have made if they did not have any expenses.

·       T will then have the student factor in the costs.

·       T will make sure that the students pay close attention to the cost of labor.

·       T will then have the students subtract the costs from the profits.

·       T will point out that on average, the farmers’ profits are small because of the costs.

·       T will point out that the cost of goods (other than labor) was high because of protectionist tarrifs.

·       T will then have the Ss do the math for how much a plantation owner could potentially make if they had slaves and did not have to worry about expensive labor costs.

·       T will have the Ss repeat the tally exercise.

·       T will point out in the cost section of the worksheet that the cost of feeding and housing slaves is much lower than having to pay them wages.

·       T will then have the Ss calculate the final income.

·       T will ask the students, “why do you think the income was so much higher for a plantation owner that had slaves than did not have slaves?” “Without thinking about whether or not slavery is right or wrong, if you were a plantation owner, would you want to have slaves or not?”

·       T will have the Ss conclude that Southerners make a lot more money with slavery than without it.

·       T will explain that this reason led to many Southerners coming up with excuses on why slavery was ok – we would be broke without slavery, slavery helps people that otherwise wouldn’t have homes, etc.


·       Students will help the T complete the plantation math problem. 

·       Students will help the T make conclusions on why the South thought it was necessary to have slavery.

·       Students ask questions if they have any.

Materials: Bankroll of a mock plantation

Independent Practice (35 minutes):


·       T will have the Ss complete a small worksheet pertaining to the math exercise that was completed as a class.

·       T will then put up the following writing prompt on the board: “Pretend you are a Southern plantation owner, write an article to a Northern newspaper entitled, “The Abolitionist” explaining why slavery should not be outlawed.

·       T will read the rubric that goes along with the newspaper template.

·       T will have the students explain what they think an A, B, C, F assignment might look like.

·       T will explain that even though no in the room is for slavery, use the information from the lesson to come up with a persuasive reason to have slavery.

·       T will tell people to put sentiments aside.

·       T will pull asides 2-3 struggling Ss to work on the writing together.


·       Ss will ask clarifying questions about the writing assignments

·       Ss will write their persuasive writing pieces quietly

Materials: Paper, pencil, newspaper article template

Closing (5 minutes):


·       As a closing, T will ask the Ss to read a piece of their persuasive newspaper article.

·       T will have the Ss finish their newspaper articles as homework.  

·       T will review the key points

·       T will have the students add what they learned to the KWL chart.

·       T will emphasize again that she/he does not think slavery is ok, but today’s lesson was about learning to view things from other perspectives.

·       T will preview the next lesson – the U.S. decision on what to do with the new territories out west.

·       T will review the homework with the students.


·       Students will explain key points when they are asked.

·       Students will fill out the L portion of the KWL chart.

·       Students will ask final questions.

Materials: Persuasive articles, KWL chart

Homework: Persuasive newspaper article.

Teacher’s Reflections:

In this lesson, I made sure to start the lesson off by having a two minute conversation about looking at things from different points of view. I explained that in order to really understand something, you should always try to understand others that may have different views from yourself. Then, I brought up the fact that a lot of things in the lesson will make them angry. I made sure to emphasize that that feeling is normal, but it is important that instead of shutting out what I have to say, that they listen carefully and try to think like a Southerner.


After that discussion, I felt like the lesson went pretty well. I made sure that on top of the text that went with the slides to add some small anecdotes and use Southern accents to really make the lesson come alive. In addition, when doing the math activity, I found that the first time I did it, I overestimated what their math skills would be like. Therefore, we did a lot of the math together, but the point of the activity still remained in tact. Finally, I found it very beneficial to really push my students to write the newspaper article. Many of them did not want to do it, but when they were finished, they did a tremendous job writing a persuasive essay from the opposite views that they themselves hold.






Lesson Resources

Civil War Unit Lesson 3 Southern Perspective Southern Newspaper Template   Writing Assignment
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective- Southern Newspaper Template (Mac)   Writing Assignment
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective - Graphic Organizer   Notes
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective - Lesson Plan    Lesson Plan
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective - Key Note    Smart Board
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective - PowerPoint    Smart Board
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective - Math Worksheet Questions   Activity
Civil War Unit - Lesson 3 - Southern Perspective - Southern Math Worksheet   Activity


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