Learning Lincoln On-line


 Lincoln and the Abolitionists Press Conference Drama-- LIBRARY OF CONGRESS IMAGE STUDY



Using resources from the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS this learning activity will use LOC and other resources to instill within students a deep understanding of the cooperation of President Abraham Lincoln and African-American leaders in the 1860's to make things better for slaves and free-men/women as well as eventual freedom for all slaves.


Lincoln and the Abolitionists about Slavery:  Meeting the Press

The Setting for this drama is in the White House East Room, 1864.  (the setting could be decorated with a large window (mural) and perhaps some fancy cloth drapery and an American Flag; a table for participants to sit behind, and a small desk/table for the moderator) 

The Characters in this play include President Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass, and a panel of 3 national reporters: Secretary of War Edward Stanton will be the narrator of our panel discussion.  (costumes of black suits and bow-ties for men, and perhaps long-sleeved white, brown or  black dresses or blouses for the girls to look like the women participants)

The Format will involve the panel asking each participant about their own personal life upbringing, opinions about slavery as in the South, about expansion of slavery in the new territories and states, and about just how slavery could be stopped permanently.  The moderator will follow a scripted set of questions.  Participants will have "scripted" answers prepared to state or read.

Historical Time of this "Press Conference" is late 1864.  The President is back in the White House from his summer home.  Emancipation has been given to blacks in the Confederate states, African American soldiers are now in the Union Army and Navy, and are fighting bravely.  The problem is that the blacks are not being treated fairly as far as pay and other ways.  The south is executing and returning black Union soldiers to the south for slavery.  The abolitionists in this panel were all slaves in their earlier lives.    Each of the participants have been gathered together today in the White House to discuss the serious problem of slavery in our country, and how it can be stopped without causing a worse division in our country.  Later in 1864, after meeting with the leading abolitionists (pictured below), the President would encourage congress to deal with the inequality and unfairness in treatment of black Union soldiers.  A bill was passed to end this.

The President is very much aware that the border states of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and Missouri were very sensitive to the idea of ridding their states of slavery.  Up until 1864, after Union victories and the glorious performance of the black soldiers in battle,   the purpose of the war was only to keep unity in the country.  The President, now sees a deeper purpose.  Slavery in all the states needed to be ended, but something bigger needed to be done to do it permanently and constitutionally.  This panel will discuss the issues of  mistreated African-American Union soldiers, and the final solution of ridding the country of slavery. 

The Underground Railroad is still working to get slaves out of the south.   Each participant of this dramatic re-creation of a "press conference" will involve students actually writing answers to a series of questions for each participant.  Let's look at the questions and then small groups can be set up to find answers and prepare them for reading or stating.

Each participant will be asked these questions, and given a chance to respond the the reporters. 


Task  #1.  A Study of Images from the Library of Congress





The President's House 1860



Abraham Lincoln Looking Presidential in 1864



Frederick Douglass, Photograph


Image, Source: b&w film copy neg.


Harriet Tubman, full-length portrait, standing with hands on back of a chair



Abraham Lincoln showing Sojourner Truth the Bible presented by colored people of Baltimore



Nursemaid with her Charge!



Early Copy of The Liberator

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) issued the first number of The Liberator on January 1, 1831.



Runaway Slave Poster






9. Harriet Beecher Stowe







Task #1 (Continued)

The main theme of this learning experience is the "relationship" of President Lincoln within his own White House to African-American abolitionist and human rights representatives, as listed to the right.  Students will analyze six images.

1.  Click Here for the "More You Look" image evaluation form and use in analyzing these images.

2.  Select the image from the selection at right (1-6) and fill out the form with responses.  The analysis of each image will be based upon observations.  Research or reading is not necessary.

The More You Look Form includes three analysis considerations:

1.  What I see-- visual description of clothing, scenery, subject, mood, action or stillness, artistic characteristics

2.  What I infer-- the subject content must be considered with "prerequisite" knowledge from the slavery timeline.  Why is the person looking the way he/she looks? What is going on?  What does the title of the image have to do with its' meaning?  What do you think the image represents--in your own words?

3.  What do I need to investigate?

The images will stimulate the student to want to know more.  The students will use the provided questions for each press conference participant, and seek answers from the narrative writings provided. 

Task # 2.  Complete a History of Slavery in the U.S.

Click Here for the Timelines at PBS Slavery in America Time-Line & Wikipedia

1.  Make your own timeline on paper with small illustrations and annotations for the "markers" you want to include.  A marker is an event or person that did something important.  Don't try to do a timeline that is too detailed.  It would go on way too long for readers to follow.  Make your annotations short and clear.  Go by years, decades or centuries.  Keep your timeline balanced and detailed enough to tell the chronology story.  Really nice timelines can be made by computer presentation software or even a word processor.

2.  Start with early 1600's and describe how slavery came to America.

3.  Follow through on the timeline of your choice, and follow the historical chronology through the passing and ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  If you go past that date, you will be entering in "Reconstruction."  That would be to modern for this timeline project.

Task 3.  Narrative Study

Each student will take a role, and using the questions for each press conference participant, find answers by researching and reading about each. 

Here are the questions:

For all the participants:

1.  Where were you born and brought up? 

2.  Tell us about your personal experience with slavery?

3.  Up until this present year (1864), what have you done to help African Americans in slavery?

4.  Do you think black people will ever be equal to white people?

5.  Do you think that the Emancipation Proclamation issued January 1, 1863?

For Frederick Douglass:

1.  We know you were a slave, but how did you get your freedom?

2.  Did you know John Brown, and what did you think about what he did?

3.  What is the name of your Newspaper?  Why did you call it that?

4.  Tell us about your first meeting with President Lincoln in the White House.

5.  How have you help the Union during the Civil War?

6.  How did President Lincoln treat you when you visited him in the White House?

7.  Do you think the African-American soldiers in the Union Army are being treated equally with white soldiers?

For Harriet Tubman:

1.  How did you escape from slavery, and when?

2.  You have been called the "Moses of your people."  Why do people say this?

3.  Tell us about the Underground Railroad.  Why is it called a railroad?

4.  You served other roles during this war.  What were your other roles?

5.  Being an abolitionist is dangerous in many areas.  How do you think you and Frederick Douglass have survived?

6.  What do you think about the way President Lincoln is handling the slave issue, as well as maintaining the unity of the country?

Sojourner Truth:

1. You were brought up a slave.  What was your birth name? 

2. What language were you taught to speak?  Did you learn to read and write?

3. When did you get your freedom?

4. You are a preacher.  Besides preaching for the abolition of slavery, what other issues do you preach for or against?

5. What do think about our President (Lincoln)?  Did the Emancipation Proclamation help the condition of the slave?

President Abraham Lincoln:

1.  You have been called the "Rail-splitter Candidate."  How did this nick-name get started? Tell us a little bit about your early life.

2.  When did you first see a slave auction?  What were your feelings then?

2.  You made a statement at Charleston during the 4th debate with Stephen Douglas.  That statement had to do with "equality of blacks" in our country.  What did you say then, and has your opinion changed since then?

3.  Why didn't you become an abolitionist with the others in this esteemed panel, in the early days before the Civil War? 

4.  Do you think the black Union soldiers are being treated fairly?  If not, how are you going to improve their conditions?

With each set of answers, the student will make two copies on large note-cards.  He/she will then memorize them so that when the press conference is performed, the answers will be dramatic, instead of mere reading.  The second copy will be given to the moderator (Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton).  The Secretary will read the questions to the press conference participants. 


Step-by-Step Directions for use by the teacher


1. Organize students into small groups and allocate a topic for each to research from the list of persons in the press conference activity:  conference announcer, moderator (Sec. of War, Edwin Stanton, President Lincoln, Tubman, Truth, Douglass, and three reporters to ask questions. 

2. An outline-script must be made up for the moderator, who will keep the Press Conference flowing smoothly.

3. Students will answer a series of questions about each of the persons in our study.  The answers can be derived from the narrative autobiographical and other resources listed in the narrative section (also in the materials section).

4. After answers are located and written by student groups a "script" must be written out in final form (answers for each question to be asked by the reporters.

5. Each group should come up with at least one person to represent the person in the press conference.  All in the group should help in planning costume, make-up, special effects and whatever will make the "person" look realistic.  Additional research on the Internet or in books could be done by the group to find more images to view for different pictorial viewpoints.

6. A first rehearsal, dress rehearsal and final production should be done.

7. For the final production, a special location, guests to watch, and background decorations-- posters, name tags on table top, and a formal announcer to introduce the moderator who will take over on the production. 

8. Video taping or digital recording would be great so participants and teacher/facilitator could see the  final production.

9. The Teacher may then conduct an assessment of the final production and preparation work.  Here are Activity Student Research Answer Form, Materials & Resources, Learning Standards and Assessment Rubric.