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Internet Lessons for Learning About Manifest Destiny and Sectionalism

Manifest Destiny

Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: The Lewis and Clark Expedition
Using primary resources from the National Archives, books, encyclopedias (both electronic and print), and other resources, students access basic information about the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Manifest Destiny. They compile their research into a chart listing the main players, significant events, and important dates. Then discuss the following questions: What do these documents reveal about U.S. foreign policy at the opening of the 19th century? What value to the west did Jefferson see in the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition? What attitude toward the Indians does Thomas Jefferson reveal in his writings to Congress? What is Manifest Destiny? How was it defined in the 1800s in the United States? How was this idea made evident during that time?

Establishing Borders: The Expansion of the United States, 1846-48
The dramatic expansion of the United States to the Pacific Coast and into the Southwest in the years 1846-48 is the focus of this lesson. As modern America vies with contentious issues of immigration and ethnic identity, this series of geography and history activities will show students how a brief two years in history had an indelible impact on American politics and culture. Standards 5.8.6, 8.5.2, and 8.8.6

Where Does History Stand on the Last Stand?
Re-Examining the Battle of Little Bighorn

In this lesson, students examine the Battle of Little Bighorn and its impact on United States and Native American culture through reading current and historic New York Times articles and by creating a research-based exhibit about this historic event. Standard 8.8.2

GO WEST YOUNG MAN! An American History Webquest on Western Expansion
Why should I "go west," you may ask? Where should I go? How should I get there? Well, rest assured, Mr. Goldberg is not going to make you go anywhere. Instead, he is going to require you to convince someone else to move west! However, imagine that you are already living in the west in the mid-nineteenth century. Envision a place where newly arrived settlers can start a new life or make a fortune. Maybe you are trying to encourage a relative to join you to find gold, or develop a large farm, or ranch cattle, or build a railroad. Now, you might be thinking, this is a piece of cake. Well, you certainly are capable of being individually persuasive; but, to truly make a thorough, convincing case, you will collaborate with other family members to "move" even the most hesitant of relatives. Standard 8.8.2

Making Myths: The West in Public and Private Writings
In this lesson, students will read selections from the works of Bret Harte, Owen Wister, Zane Grey, and Willa Cather. They will place them on a time line of writers about the West and select elements in their works that demonstrate a distinctly Western voice. They will determine how these works came to typify a western mythic image, and contrast these versions of the West with the diaries and letters of the pioneers who documented their own travails. Finally, each student will select a work from contemporary Western literature to read and analyze in depth. In their final assignment they will compare the perspective of the author of their work with the writers read in the first part of the lesson. Standard 8.8.2 and 8.12.2

Images of the West
This lesson explores several of the themes in the PBS video The West by comparing the works of artists and photographers who documented and interpreted its vast, uncharted landscapes and its native and emigrant inhabitants during much of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. At the end of their viewing and research, students will be able to analyze how artists and photographers (whose work influenced both westward migration and public opinion) have contributed to the myth of the West. Standard 8.8.2

The Nez Perce and the Dawes Act
This lesson asks students to view westward expansion from the perspective of the Nez Perce and their leader Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (Chief Joseph). Students follow the epic struggle of the Nez Perce against the United States government by viewing "Good Words" from Episode 6, "Fight No More Forever," of The West (pbs video). As each small segment is shown, a discussion follows in which students are asked to problem solve the best response had they been the leader of the Nez Perce. The lesson proceeds to a role-play set in 1887 (using profiles from the Interactive Biographical Dictionary) in which students impersonate and then evaluate how a variety of Americans viewed the historic stand of the Nez Perce at the time. A document analysis of the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 sets the stage for evaluating its aftermath. The lesson ends as the class holds two debates. One, set in 1900, asks students to propose alternative legislation to the Dawes Act. The second asks students to act as historians as they evaluate the motives behind passage of the act itself.

Manifest Destiny
Examine six very brief primary sources from 1845 and decide how they reflect America's idea of Manifest Destiny and the decision to become involved in the Mexican American War. Standard 8.8.2

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
In groups, identify the issues/causes that led to the Mexican War. Categorize the data as long-term, short-term, or immediate. Each group reports its results to the class in order to create a comprehensive classroom list of the issues/ causes that led to the Mexican War. Groups match or link the articles of the treaty with the causes/issues that led to the war. Teacher will need to provide the background material to young or second language students before starting the lesson. Standards 5.8.6, 8.8.6, 11.9.7 (background)

Values and Beliefs of Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was specifically applied to Mexicans and Native Americans. The doctrine was used to justify the Mexican-American War, resulting in the acquisition of about 40 percent of Mexico's territory, including California. The Gold Rush brought to California considerable numbers, it brought mostly Euro-Americans to a place predominantly inhabited by Native Americans and Californios (Mexicans living in California). Examine the idea of Manifest Destiny and its importance. What part did Manifest Destiny play in the rush to the California gold fields? Analyze a painting from the period to see the influence of the idea on American perceptions. Standards 8.8.2 and 8.8.6


Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Anti-railroad Propaganda Poster -- The Growth of Regionalism, 1800 - 1860

From 1800 to 1860, the United States was divided into three distinct regions: the North, the South, and the West. While each region remained dedicated to the "American Dream," each attempted to reach the dream in significantly different ways. The North realized her dreams with industry and commerce while the South continued to prosper with her plantations and subsistence farms. The Western frontier opened up to both commercial farms and manufacturing, showing a little bit of both her northern and southern heritage. Standards 8.6.0, 8.7.0, and 8.8.0

Before Brother Fought Brother: Factory vs. Plantation in the North and South
By 1860, the differences between the North and South had become so great that Northerners and Southerners felt as if they belonged to two different countries. What were some of these differences? Which ones were important enough to fight about? Explain to students that they are going to study life in the United States in the years before the Civil War to gain a better understanding of why people grew willing to fight to defend their way of life. Standards 8.9.5, 8.10.1, and 8.10.2

The Rise of Sectional Politics, 1848-1860
Between 1848 and 1860 America’s political life became increasingly divided along regional lines. In 1848 the two major political parties, the Whigs and the Democrats, received votes in both the North and the South. By the end of the 1850s, however, the Democrats drew votes mainly in the South. The Whig Party had disappeared, and the new Republican Party existed exclusively in the North. Thus a victory for one party or the other in presidential elections increasingly meant a victory for one section of the country over the other.

Place yourself in the 1850s, write a platform for a new political party that would transcend sections and represent the nation as a whole. Include what the major goals of the party would be, the vision of the future of the nation, and any specific programs to meet those goals and that vision. Standards 8.9.5, 8.10.1, and 8.10.2

"We Came to Free the Slaves:" John Brown on Trial
Throughout American history people have protested and broken the law. Once in court, they often have tried to use their trials to advance their causes. In the 1960s and 1970s, many people sought to use the courtroom to denounce racial segregation and the Vietnam War. In the 1980s and 1990s, many others tried to turn their trials into an attack on abortion. Before the Civil War, John Brown, a tireless crusader against slavery, fought his last battle against slavery in an American courtroom. Answer the discussion questions and work in groups to take and defend a position on "Is it ever right to break the law?" Standard 8.9.1

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