Skip to content

An Assignment

Thu, 28 Dec 2023, 12:07 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

1. A Question

A video plays on the monitor at the front of the classroom. In it, Nikki Haley is on stage at a town hall meeting. An audience member asks, “What was the cause of the United States Civil War?”

We watch the video for a few minutes. Then I turn to the class.

“Painful isn’t it?”

No one speaks.

“So what just happened?”

And from that question, we begin to incrementally work into the deeper issues, beginning with what a Town Hall is, and why a candidate might want to field questions from audience members. The students talk about what they noticed. And they begin to discuss what they wonder.

The discussion is civil, but before long time is almost up.

2. An Assignment

I hand out a sheet of paper.

“Here is an assignment. You are going to gather some historical facts. You will collect details on what happened when. Then you will focus on South Carolina and the US Constitution. It’s all related to part of what that man in the audience asked.

“Here are the details.” I point to the monitor.

  • Which state was the first to secede from the Union? When did that happen? Which states quickly seceded to form the Confederate States of America? Which states came later?
  • On 03 January 1861, Delaware rejected secession and remained in the Union. Slavery was legal in Delaware. Research these facts and briefly explain what was going on. 
  • On 09 February 1861, a Tennessee referendum to convene a convention to secede from the Union failed, presumably rejecting secession. But by 06 May, public opinion had evidently changed, and Tennessee seceded. Research the importance of Middle Tennessee in this change, and briefly explain what was going on. Make sure to discuss the role slavery played.
  • There have been reports (in the press? online?) that the first sentence of the South Carolina ordinance seceding from the Union refers to slavery. Here is that document. Does the first sentence refer to slavery? Does the document explain the rationale for secession? 
  • Here is another document which perhaps is what the reports were referring to. What is the purpose of this document? Its first sentence does indeed refer to slavery. What is the gist of that reference? 
  • The above document refers to Article 4 of the US Constitution. Briefly explain what part of Article 4 is relevant and South Carolina’s complaint with regard to that clause. Make sure to discuss how slavery is related to this complaint.
  • Assemble a timeline of the following events, including a title for each event, a brief description, and the date of the event: (a) the passage of South Carolina’s ordinance of secession, (b) Lincoln’s election, (c) the passage of the Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States, (d) the beginning of the US Civil War, and (e) passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
  • Finally, briefly explain whether or not you think that the Thirteenth Amendment closed the question on slavery in the United States. This is a big question. I am just looking for a brief outline of your thinking, backed up by some facts.

3. Wait

Oh wait. This is Algebra 2. What was I thinking? Your next assignment is this worksheet on polynomial division. 

© jumpingfish by David Hasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License