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Crisis at Fort Sumter

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The Cloudworks Team
2 May 2008

Bring a subject to life by making students face other people’s decisions and dilemmas, with just the same information and resources.


To avoid history teaching becoming just a succession of facts about what happened in the past, this activity opens up historical events by taking students back in time to when their outcome was not yet certain. They have to face the same decisions which confronted a historical character – in this case Abraham Lincoln, between his election in November 1860 and the Battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861. Students are given five “problems”, each reflecting a critical decision made by Lincoln in this period. To help them solve the problems themselves, they have contemporary advice representing the positions of Lincoln’s cabinet members, newspapers, friends, and public spokesmen. They also have extensive resources on the Civil War. For each problem, they have to decide amongst the alternatives presented and write an explanation of their decision. They then get to see a summary of what Lincoln did. [Richard B. Latner]

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