Learning Exercise

The Eve of War and Secession

a collaborative reseach and presentation project
Course: American History

An interactive site that has students browse reproductions of records and documents pertaining to two similar towns in... see more


Part I-Break up the class (F2F or online) into three equal size groups--for classes over 18 persons additional groups may be created that will complete similar assignments devised by the course facilitator.

Part II-Each group will be responsible for researching the appropriate sources within Valley of the Shadow and producing a presentation--of various media and technique (PowerPoint, transparencies, discussion and short lecture). NOTE:The presentations will be done before the entire class or if an online scenario, uploaded into the Student Presentations forum (in your webct or other learning platform).

The sources you will review represent views from Pennsylvania's Franklin County, and the Virginia county of Augusta.

Group One: prepare a presentation that provides a brief narrative of events surrounding John Brown's raid and compare several accounts of the raid--make certain that you include both a southerly and a northerly perspective on the event. How did the accounts differ ? do the accounts themselves surprise you in any way? if so, how so?

Group Two: prepare a presentation that compares several newspaper articles that concern Licoln's election, Unionist efforts and the formation of the CSA.

Group Three: prepare a presentation that compare several newspaper articles that concern the South's firing upon Fort Sumter, the Secession of the upper South, and general local commentary about all this.



familiarity with the importance of using primary sources for rendering historical authority


antebellum late 1850s and early 1860s

Learning Objectives

to attain better insight as to how key national developments that preceeded to the American Civil War played themselves out at the local level.
to hone research techniques and to familiarize learners with a primary source repository

to improve learners' ability to construct an historical arguement

to provide for shared learning between students and their instructor