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 C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 4. Analyze the institution of slavery and its influence on societies in the United States

Objective a. Describe pro-slavery and anti-slavery positions and explain how debates over slavery influenced politics and sectionalism

Many proslavery advocates argued that white wage laborers in Northern factories were actually worse off than enslaved African Americans on Southern plantations. James Henry Hammond was one staunch proponent of this view. Have students read a portion of Hammond’s 1858 speech to the U.S. Senate to familiarize them with his argument http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h3439t.html.

To test Hammond’s assertion that enslaved African Americans were better off than Northern wage laborers, have students read primary source accounts about life under slavery (for example: Annie Young Henson, Benjamin Johnson) and life in Northern textile mills (for example: http://www.albany.edu/faculty/gz580/His316/VisitorLowell1836.html, or http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/americanstudies/lavender/graphics/ttable.jpg). Students should also compare the employee rules at Northern textile mills (http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/whole_cloth/u2ei/u2images/act9/Lew_rules.html, http://www.kentlaw.edu/ilhs/lowell.html) with those for slaves on a Southern plantation (http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/whole_cloth/u2ei/u2materials/prules.html, http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/whole_cloth/u2ei/u2materials/deBow.html).

Conduct a classroom debate on the question, having students support their arguments with facts and figures gleaned from research and the personal accounts. Finally, ask students to take a position on the issue and write a newspaper editorial making their case as if they are living in 1850.

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Resources for Objective 5.C.4.a:
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