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The 1850s and Causes of the Civil War

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Civics +1 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old)
This collection includes artifacts, stamps, political cartoons, portraits, and videos representing various long-term and short-term causes of the Civil War. Students could use the collection as the basis for a sorting activity:
Which causes are long-term and which are short?
Which represent economic, social, or political differences between the North and South?
Can they be put in chronological order?
Which show attempts at compromise and which show that violence was difficult to avoid?

Additional teaching ideas are listed in the Notes to Other Users section.

"The Union is Dissolved!" Broadside

National Museum of American History

John Brown's Sharps Rifle

National Museum of American History

Plate 2. Slave Pen, Alexandria

National Museum of American History

Reproduction of Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin Model

National Museum of American History

Stephen A. Douglas Campaign Medal

National Museum of American History

4c Lincoln-Douglas Debates single

National Postal Museum

Political Gymnasium

National Portrait Gallery

Uncle Sam Making New Arrangements

National Portrait Gallery

Great Republican Reform Party

National Portrait Gallery

National Republican Chart

National Portrait Gallery

Republican Banner for 1860

National Portrait Gallery

Charles Sumner

National Portrait Gallery

James William Denver

National Portrait Gallery

Roger Brooke Taney

National Portrait Gallery

Henry Clay

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

John Brown

National Portrait Gallery

Harriet Tubman

National Portrait Gallery

John Brown

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Portrait of America: The Conflict Over Slavery [fresco] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son)

Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Abraham Lincoln - Stephen A. Douglas Debate at Charleston, Illinois, (painting)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

A Ride for Liberty - The Fugitive Slaves, (painting)

Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

The Raid on Harpers Ferry

Smithsonian Magazine