Crowdsourcing Lincoln and Fort Sumter Classroom Simulation

fort-sumter-fireTime for a little crowdsourcing in preparation for a simulation on Lincoln and Fort Sumter that my students will perform a week from this coming Tuesday.  The overall idea is to have my students play the role of cabinet advisers and I, of course, will play Lincoln.  Since I only have nine students we should be able to have a pretty lively discussion/debate.  Yes, I am going to show up dressed like Lincoln and don’t worry as I will come prepared with plenty of responses that begin with, “That reminds me of a story…” Their responsibility is to advise me on what to do about the situation at Fort Sumter in the period following Lincoln’s inauguration. Should it be resupplied or abandoned?

I want to use the opportunity to have students consider the question from multiple perspectives and in light of recent events leading to Lincoln’s inauguration.  Based on the available evidence they will also have to argue as to the likely consequences of Lincoln’s decision for the nation.  Among other things, I want them to think about the differences between the Lower and Upper South, material differences between North and South, political differences in the North, Union, Southern Unionism, and disagreements in Lincoln’s cabinet.  Their packet will include both primary and secondary sources.  I’ve already put together a few things that I’ve used for various purposes in the past.

Secondary Sources (short excerpts)

  • Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals
  • James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom
  • David Potter’s The Impending Crisis
  • Maury Klein’s Days of Defiance

Primary Sources (short excerpts)

  • Lincoln and Davis Inaugurals
  • Lincoln on Southern Unionism
  • Crittenden Compromise
  • Speeches from Virginia’s Conditional Unionists
  • Positions of Lincoln’s Cabinet members
  • Horace Greeley Editorial
  • Advice from Winfield Scott
  • Correspondence with Major Robert Anderson
  • Newspaper Editorials
  • Letters and Diaries (George Templeton Strong)
  • Maps

This is just a start, but I would really appreciate any suggestions you might have.  Please be as specific as possible and include sources.  I am especially interested in online sources because they are easily accessible.

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8 comments… add one
  • John Rudy Jan 31, 2013

    Some good articles with threats from the Southern press might be good…
    Charleston Mercury –

    • Kevin Levin Feb 1, 2013

      I’ve got a few set aside, but thanks for the link. I may use it.

  • Stephen Hoy Jan 31, 2013

    Ch 1 in Craig Symonds’ Lincoln and his Admirals lays out the confusion and conflict at the top pretty plainly, and from an important perspective. Adam Goodheart’s 1861: Civil War Awakening offers an inside view of Sumter in Chs 1 and 4.

    Seward’s “Some thoughts for the President’s consideration” and Lincoln’s response are available via

    NY State Lib has an online exhibit of the Sumter conflict.drawn from Harper’s Weekly and the NY Illustrated News:

  • bummer Feb 1, 2013

    Were Lamon and Hunter on a mission for Lincoln, gathering information. Was Lamon a misdirection, in order for Hunter to test the true sentiment. Just a twist to consider.

  • dudski Feb 1, 2013

    The Anderson material should be very interesting, in that he was pro slavery and a former slave owner, but had remained loyal to the Union. At the same time, in moving from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter on his own initiative he sparked events in ways the more cautious political operators were up to that time unwilling to do.

    I’d also recommend “Diary of a Public Man”. It is an account of supposed conversations among various Washington insiders (Lincoln, Seward, and Stephen A. Douglas among others) and an unnamed “public man” in the days leading up to the firing on Fort Sumter. There is a lot of academic debate regarding who might have been the author and whether the conversations in the book actually took place.

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