This unit was created by educators in Chicago, IL, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 13 90-100 minute class periods.
Students will be able to...
- Evaluate the role slavery played in creating and perpetuating structures of racial inequality in modern society
- Identify and explain how marginalized groups have engaged in struggle to experience the benefits of American democracy
- Analyze primary and secondary sources utilizing The-HIPP graphic organizer
- Is America Really the Land of the Free?
- Historically, how has freedom been restricted to certain groups of people?
- How has the struggle for freedom over the history of our country connected past to present?
- What makes someone an American? What does it mean to be an American?
- How and why have the definition of citizenship and the meaning and practice of democracy changed over time?
- How have American identity, democracy, and the practices of citizenship been influenced by race, class, and gender?
The American Revolution, Civil War, and Reconstruction are some of the most formidable moments in our nation’s history. These events tested a young country, first with the concept of freedom and independence, and then by extending that freedom and independence to all people.
During this 6 week unit, students start with the broader questions of American freedom and how it has been restricted to certain groups of people. Starting with the American Revolution, students will analyze that concept of freedom by learning about historically marginalized groups of people and what the Revolution meant to them. Through these lessons, students will practice building claims and citing and analyzing evidence from primary and secondary source documents. Then, students will consider how the Civil War re-centered debates about freedom for all people/communities. Using a range of resources including The 1619 Project, students will analyze how and why people fought to limit and extend the ideals of the constitution to historically marginalized groups. Students will use The 1619 Project and accompanying resources to examine how people interpreted the meaning of liberty for all Americans. The unit ends with a Long Essay Question paper that examines how groups of Americans, from the Revolution to Reconstruction, have struggled to engage with American democracy.
Long Essay (LEQ)
Students will write an LEQ (long essay) that responds to the following prompt:
Evaluate the extent to which historically marginalized groups were similar in their struggles to engage in American democracy from 1754 - 1885.
In their responses, students can choose one of the two approaches:
- Compare two groups (Colonists, Indigenous Peoples, African Americans, etc.)
- Analyze one group and expand on how their struggles spanned across different identities (African American and Women, etc).
Thirteen-day unit plan for teachers, including pacing, texts and multimedia resources, and worksheets for student projects. Download below, or scroll down to read the complete unit plan.
|Resources from The 1619 Project||“The Idea of America” by Nikole Hannah-Jones: The essay at the cornerstone of The 1619 Project, exploring the contributions of Black Americans in moving America towards its stated democratic ideals.
“Capitalism” by Matthew Desmond: An essay that traces the brutality of American capitalism to practices created as part of the institution of slavery.
“The Wealth Gap” by Trymaine Lee: An essay outlining some of the systemic causes behind the vast wealth gap between Black and white Americans today.
"Aug. 30, 1800: story by Barry Jenkins": A creative work set on the day of an extensively planned slave rebellion in Virginia. The rebellion, which was thwarted when details of the plot were shared, was led by Gabriel Prosser who was tried, found guilty, and hanged for leading a “negro insurrection”.
|Other Essays & Texts||Excerpt from "Chapter 3 [The Hidden Origins of Slavery]" in A Different Mirror: A History of Multicutural America by Ronald Takaki, Boundlessness. [.pdf]
"The Southern Colonies in British America" chapter from the textbook Major Problems in American History [.pdf]
"How Slavery Built A World Economy" chapter from Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture
"A Kind of Revolution" chapter from A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn: An essay about the effects of class relations during and following the American Revolutionary War.
“Black Loyalists Exodus to Nova Scotia,” Blackpast.org: An essay about the Black Loyalists, Black people who fought on the side of the British during the American Revolution in return for the promise of freedom. They were repatriated to British Canada after the war.
“Wentworth Cheswell,” Blackpast.org: An essay about Wentworth Cheswell who was the second person of African Ancestry to be elected to public office in what would become the United States.
Part Three: The Political Struggle, 1865-1866, Facing History & Ourselves: An instructional video about different visions for Reconstruction held by Congress and President Johnson.
"The Travails of Reconstruction," Library of Congress: An article about the Reconstruction period from the Library of Congress's US History Primary Source Timeline.
|Videos||The Story of Reconstruction|CBS Sunday Morning: Mo Rocca talks with professor Henry Louis Gates, as well as with historian Eric Foner and author Lawrence Otis Graham, about some of the most noted African American figures in the post-Civil War era.
Reconstruction: America After the Civil War Part 1: Students watched part 1 of this PBS Documentary covering the period following the United States Civil War.
|Teaching Strategies and Evaluation Materials||"Save the Last Word for Me," Facing History and Ourselves
Harkness Rubric [.pdf]
Long Essay Question Rubric [.pdf]
- SS.H.7.9-12: Identify the role of individuals, groups, and institutions in people's struggle for safety, freedom, equality, and justice.
- SS.H.11.9-12: Analyze multiple and complex causes and effects of events in the past.
- SS.H.8.9-12: Analyze key historical events and contributions of individuals through a variety of perspectives, including those of historically underrepresented groups.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9: Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.1.A: Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.