Using Time-Lines in the Classroom

My survey courses are currently making their way through William Gienapp’s biography of Lincoln.  We’ve just started the Civil War and while I hope to finish with the book in two weeks I want to make sure that my students finish with as sophisticated an understanding of Lincoln, slavery, and emancipation as possible.  Let’s face it, the changing conditions both in the north and on the ground militarily that led Lincoln to begin the process of emancipation is difficult to grasp for high school students.  Lincoln’s own words on race, colonization, and slavery leave my students confused without a great deal of context. 

With this in mind I am going to try a little experiment next week which allows students to create their own time-lines online.  Students will be given 25 Lincoln quotes from between 1861-65 on a range of issues having to do with emancipation and slavery.  They will have to plot those quotes on the time-line along with relevant background information that will help to render the quote intelligible.  The program also allows you to upload videos and images which can be opened by clicking on a specific date on the time-line.  You can also link to other websites.  Here is a sample of a time-line on Lincoln. I anticipate that some of the students will go beyond the 25 quotes by expanding their time-line to include pre-war references by Lincoln.  Perhaps I should give these students extra-credit.  Once they complete their time-lines they will have to use it to write a short 2-3 page essay that  addresses the question of how and why Lincoln’s views on slavery and race evolved during the Civil War. 

I will share a few samples once the assignment is completed.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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