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 5.0 History

Topic B. Emergence, Expansion and Changes in Nations and Empires

Indicator 5. Analyze the political, economic, and social goals of Reconstruction

Objective d. Evaluate the social and economic impact of sharecropping, tenant farming and the Freedman's Bureau in the post Civil War South

To help students analyze the effectiveness of the Freedmen’s Bureau, first show them the following cartoon published in Harper’s Weekly on July 25, 1868 and discuss as a class its meaning:

What does the cartoon depict? What does it suggest is the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau? Have students read the accompanying editorial from that same issue of Harper’s Weekly, entitled “The Freedmen’s Bureau.” Hoes does this editorial present the Freedmen’s Bureau? Is it a positive or negative assessment of the Bureau? What sorts of accomplishments does it attribute to the Bureau?

Next, have students read additional primary sources to evaluate whether Harper’s Weekly’s view of the Freedmen’s Bureau was accurate and whether the Freedmen’s Bureau really did create a new Southern society where African Americans were treated fairly. Direct students to read some of the employment contracts arranged by the Freedmen’s Bureau between ex-slaves and landowners in Tennessee: You might assign a pair of students to each contract. Did the contract offer fair terms to both the landowner and the ex-slaves? Did the contracts treat the African Americans entirely as free laborers or were there elements of the contracts that resembled slavery in any way? To help students decide whether African Americans really were protected and treated fairly in the post-war South, have them read the following account:

Resources for Objective 5.B.5.d:
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