School Improvement in Maryland

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 1.0 Political Science

Topic A. The Foundations and Function of Government

Indicator 2. Analyze the impact of historic documents and practices that became the foundations of the American political system during the early national period

Objective g. Evaluate the significance of the Civil War Amendments (13th, 14th and 15th) and how they protected individual rights

To fulfill this objective, students should be able to explain both the constitutional and historical significance of the Civil War Amendments.

Begin by having the students read the actual text of the three amendments and describe in writing, perhaps on a graphic organizer, the most important provisions of each. Then distribute primary and/or secondary readings describing the origins, ratification history, as well as the immediate and long term implications of each amendment. Using an online program such as the one found at, or on paper, have the students construct separate timelines documenting important developments related to each amendment. Instruct students to color code each timeline so events/developments can be categorized as “antecedents” (events leading to the passage of the amendment), “immediate impacts,” “resistance,” and “long term legacies.” If necessary, clarify the meaning of these terms (particularly “antecedents”). As needed, teachers may also provide students with a list of events to select for placement on each timeline. But students should be able to explain on their own the importance of each event. When preparing this activity, be sure the students are exposed to the most important long term impacts particularly of the 14th and 15th Amendments that occurred beyond the time period covered in 8th grade U.S. History (For example, students should document events demonstrating that the 14th Amendment has become a vehicle for protecting the rights of groups other than African Americans, or that further legislation was needed for enforcement of the 15th Amendment).

In class discussion or as a journal writing assignment, have the students consider the question, “Which of the Civil War Amendments had the most significant short term impact? Which one had the most significant long term effects?”

Resources for Objective 1.A.2.g:
Clarifications | LESSON SEEDS | Sample Assessments | Resource Links