Compromises and Decisions on the Slavery Issue

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The Slavery Issue: Between 1820 and 1861, the United States grew increasingly divided as it struggled to answer difficult questions concerning slavery. Should slavery be allowed to spread to the West or should slavery be abolished throughout the nation? For a time, northerners and southerners settled their differences through compromises. After several compromises designed to prevent the possible secession of the southern states from the Union, it became clear that a serious confrontation over the issue was unavoidable. Using primary sources found at:, and the creation of a Question and Answer “Flip Book” based on the topic, students will understand how Americans during this period grappled with the issue of slavery and whether or not it should continue in an increasingly expanding yet divided nation.

Reading Activity

Brief primary source readings, organized chronologically, will be used for purposes of discussion and clarification of the various compromises, court decisions, and opinions of leaders during the period. A list of vocabulary words used in the readings is provided on the next page, as well as a list of terms to be identified by students through homework and/or the class “flip book” activity. The teacher will read each reading or may choose for individual students to read.

Q & A Flipbook About
Compromises on the Slavery Issue

Using materials provided by the teacher, students will cut and paste paper strips containing certain questions to construction paper. Each strip will cover an answer to be written on the construction paper beneath. Students will be able to lift each strip to reveal the answer. They may work either individually or in pairs to find the correct answer to each question using their textbook and what they learned from the reading activity. This is a variation on a lesson from the Hands-On History activity book by Michael Gravois. An example from his book is shown on the next page. I have modified the questions to fit the topic of this lesson.

Lesson by:
Matt Snyder
Teacher: History-Social Science
Slauson Middle School, Azusa, CA