American Presidents

abraham lincoln American Presidents Teacher Guide

Abraham Lincoln and the American Conflict
June 28, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use:
Secondary level

Before Viewing American Presidents
Part 1
Present students with the following statement from President Abraham Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

What did President Lincoln mean by this quote? Generate a discussion about the causes and effects of internal political and/or social conflict.

Raise the following questions:

  • What is conflict?
  • Is conflict negative, positive or both?
  • How can conflict be both negative and positive?
Ask students to identify a variety of human responses to conflict. Discuss contexts when each of the various responses are most effective (or least effective) in resolving conflicts.

What are some sources of internal domestic conflict in the United States? (i.e. perceived racism, economic changes, struggles for individual rights.) What steps have individuals, institutions and government taken to address these conflicts? (i.e. voting, passing a law, holding a town hall meeting.)

Part 2
In teams, have students create a list of the channels or methods through which citizens and institutions in our country address conflicts over issues of national concern. Students should consider the channels available to each of the following:

  • Private citizens
  • Interest groups
  • Legislative branch
  • Executive branch
  • Judicial branch
  • The media
  • Others

Have students compare and contrast lists, and categorize the responses. Have students debate in what contexts the methods are most or the least effective.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Create a list of issues that were the source of domestic conflict during President Lincoln's life and presidency. List the steps President Lincoln and the citizens of the United States, and other entities have taken to address the conflict(s).

Conflict/Issue President Lincoln's response Others' responses

After Viewing American Presidents
Have students categorize the strategies employed by President Lincoln and others in the United States. Consider whether the strategies were effective. Explain all answers.

Draw a conclusion: What guidelines should a leader, such as the president, follow when addressing internal conflict?

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