Lesson 2: Early Reconstruction
Time Estimated: 2 days
- Examine early developments of Reconstruction including the 13th Amendment and the Freedmenís Bureau
- Describe conditions in the South and the work of the Freedmenís Bureau by using primary sources, such as letters and Bureau records
- Consider the successes of the Freedmenís Bureau, such as the building of schools and churches, as well as the ongoing struggles with labor relations, violence, and Black Codes.
- Document Analysis Worksheet from National Archives http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/analysis_worksheets/
- Letter from Jourdan Anderson to his former master asking for wages: http://www.historymatters.gmu.edu/d/6369
- Marshall Twitchellís account of working for the Freedmenís Bureau: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/carpetbagger/ps_twitchell.html
- Letter to the Bureau asking for workers: http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/HIUS403/freedmen/fb-contracts.html
- Labor Contract for former slaves: http://www.freedmensbureau.com/georgia/contracts/georgiacontract.htm
- Letters and Newspaper notices about building churches: http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/HIUS403/freedmen/fb-socialservices.html
- Letters about schools and other services for freedmen: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/schools/ps_highgate.html
- Personal Narrative of a freedwoman: Library of Congress WPA Narrative. The document and a transcription are available: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=wpa3&fileName=33/3301/
- Black Codes: Mississippi Black Code of 1865; will need to be excerpted for students: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/reconstruction/section4/section4_blackcodes.html
- PBS video or mini-documentary clip from PBS website on Marshall Twitchell http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/carpetbagger/index.html
- Hook: Have students respond to this question, either in writing or in a discussion format. ďImagine that you are a slave who has just been set free. Describe how you are feeling, what you will do next, where you will go, and any challenges you think you might face.Ē
- Introduction: Describe the 13th Amendment to students, or have them read about it in their textbooks. Also discuss the Freedmenís Bureau and why it was created. Have students add these terms to their Reconstruction Vocabulary list. Discuss with the class the challenges that the 4 million emancipated slaves would face.
- Video Clip Introduction: Have students watch a mini-documentary on Marshall Twitchell http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/carpetbagger/index.html, a representative of the Freedmenís Bureau working in Louisiana.
- Create charts to use for a Carousel Brainstorm. As a class, generate titles to put at the top of each chart. Each chart will focus on an issue facing the emancipated slaves and the Freedmenís Bureau. Examples: Labor, Churches, Schools, Violence, etc. As students are working on the primary sources analysis, hang charts up around the classroom.
- Primary Sources: Working in pairs or small groups, have students evaluate primary sources relating to the Freedmenís Bureau. Each group will have a different source to analyze. Students will use the Document Analysis Worksheet. When they have finished, they will share their resource with the class. Variation: If time allows, or if some groups can handle it, have them analyze more than one primary source.
- Carousel Brainstorm: Each group will rotate through the posters. On each poster, they will list a piece of evidence or example that shows something theyíve learned about the topic through their primary sources. Then they will move on to the next poster and add information that they have learned that supports that main idea.
- Wrap Up: Have students write a response from the Freedmenís Bureau to one of the people theyíve studied in their primary sources. In the letter, students demonstrate knowledge of the problems facing southerners after the Civil War and the ways in which the Freedmenís Bureau tried to assist people after the war.
This lesson contains a wide variety of resources that can be assigned to groups and individuals based on ability and interest. Student interest in a particular topic can conduct additional research and locate more primary sources. Students with lower reading levels can focus on images rather than text-heavy resources. Stronger readers could be given more challenging resources, such as the text of the Black Codes and the Amendments. The needs of kinesthetic learners are addressed through the Carousel Brainstorm.