Curriculum framework 2008 United States History to 1865 Board of Education Commonwealth of Virginia



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STANDARD USI.9a

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by

a) describing the cultural, economic, and constitutional issues that divided the nation.


Essential Understandings

Essential Questions

Essential Knowledge

Essential Skills

Cultural, economic, and constitutional differences between the North and the South eventually resulted in the Civil War.


How did cultural, economic, and constitutional issues create bitter divisions between the North and the South?




Issues that divided the nation

  • Slavery

  • While there were several differences between the North and the South, the issues related to slavery increasingly divided the nation and led to the Civil War.

  • Cultural issues

  • The North was mainly an urban society in which people held jobs in cities.

  • The South was primarily an agricultural society in which people lived in small villages and on farms and plantations.

  • Because of their cultural differences, people of the North and South found it difficult to agree on social and political issues.

  • Economic issues

  • The North was a manufacturing region, and its people favored tariffs that protected factory owners and workers from foreign competition.

  • The South was largely agricultural. Southerners opposed tariffs that would cause prices of manufactured goods to increase. Planters were also concerned that Great Britain might stop buying cotton from the South if tariffs were added.

  • Constitutional issues

  • A major conflict was states’ rights versus strong central government.

Make connections between the past and the present. (USI.1b)


Sequence events in United States history. (USI.1c)
Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (USI.1d)

STANDARD USI.9b

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by

b) explaining how the issues of states’ rights and slavery increased sectional tensions.


Essential Understandings

Essential Questions

Essential Knowledge

Essential Skills

The South feared that the North would take control of Congress, and Southerners began to proclaim states’ rights as a means of self-protection.


The North believed that the nation was a union that could not be divided.
While the Civil War did not begin as a war to abolish slavery, issues surrounding slavery deeply divided the nation.

How did the issues of states’ rights and slavery increase sectional tension between the North and South?




Issues that divided the nation

  • An important issue separating the country related to the power of the federal government. Southerners believed that they had the power to declare any national law illegal. Northerners believed that the national government’s power was supreme over that of the states.

  • Southerners felt that the abolition of slavery would destroy their region’s economy. Northerners believed that slavery should be abolished for moral reasons.


Compromises attempting to resolve differences

  • Missouri Compromise (1820): Missouri entered the Union as a slave state; Maine entered the Union as a free state.

  • Compromise of l850: California entered the Union as a free state. Southwest territories would decide the slavery issue for themselves.

  • Kansas-Nebraska Act: People in each state would decide the slavery issue (“popular sovereignty”).


Southern secession

  • Following Lincoln’s election, the southern states seceded from the Union.

  • Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, marking the beginning of the Civil War.

  • Lincoln and many Northerners believed that the United States was one nation that could not be separated or divided.

  • Most Southerners believed that the states had freely created and joined the union and could freely leave it.

Sequence events in United States history. (USI.1c)


Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (USI.1d)
Interpret patriotic slogans. (USI.1h)

STANDARD USI.9c

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by

c) identifying on a map the states that seceded from the Union and those that remained in the Union.


Essential Understandings

Essential Questions

Essential Knowledge

Essential Skills

Southern states that were dependent upon labor-intensive cash crops seceded from the Union. Northernmost slave states (border states) and free states stayed in the Union.


Which states seceded from the Union?


Which four slave states stayed in the Union?
Where were the other states that remained in the Union located?


States that seceded from the Union

  • Alabama  North Carolina

  • Arkansas  South Carolina

  • Florida  Tennessee

  • Georgia  Texas

  • Louisiana  Virginia

  • Mississippi


States that remained in the Union

  • Border states (slave states)

  • Delaware – Maryland

  • Kentucky – Missouri

  • Free states

– California – New Hampshire

– Connecticut – New Jersey

– Illinois – New York

– Indiana – Ohio

– Iowa – Oregon

– Kansas – Pennsylvania

– Maine – Rhode Island

– Massachusetts – Vermont

– Michigan – West Virginia*

– Minnesota – Wisconsin


*Note: Western counties of Virginia that refused to secede from the Union

Analyze and interpret maps to explain historical events. (USI.1f)




STANDARD USI.9d

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by

d) describing the roles of Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and Frederick Douglass in events leading to and during the war.


Essential Understandings

Essential Questions

Essential Knowledge

Essential Skills

Lincoln and Lee were men who represented views of the nature of the United States that were very different; such views led to an unavoidable conflict.


Who are considered leaders of the Civil War?


How did Lincoln’s view of the nature of the Union differ from Lee’s?


Roles of Civil War leaders

  • Was president of the United States

  • Opposed the spread of slavery

  • Issued the Emancipation Proclamation

  • Determined to preserve the Union, by force if necessary

  • Believed the United States was one nation, not a collection of independent states

  • Wrote the Gettysburg Address that said the Civil War was to preserve a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

  • Jefferson Davis

  • Was president of the Confederate States of America

  • Ulysses S. Grant

  • Was general of the Union army that defeated Lee

  • Robert E. Lee

  • Was leader of the Army of Northern Virginia

  • Was offered command of the Union forces at the beginning of the war, but chose not to fight against Virginia

  • Opposed secession, but did not believe the Union should be held together by force

  • Urged Southerners to accept defeat at the end of the war and reunite as Americans when some wanted to fight on

  • Was a skilled Confederate general from Virginia

  • Frederick Douglass

  • Was an enslaved African American who escaped to the North and became an abolitionist

Identify and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history. (USI.1a)


Sequence events in United States history. (USI.1c)
Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (USI.1d)

STANDARD USI.9e

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by

e) using maps to explain critical developments in the war, including major battles.


Essential Understandings

Essential Questions

Essential Knowledge

Essential Skills

Location and topography were critical elements influencing important developments in the Civil War, including major battles.


Where did critical events of the Civil War take place?


Where were the major battles fought?
What are the ways location and topography influence important developments in the war, including major battles?



Major battles and events

  • The firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., began the war.

  • The first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was the first major battle.

  • The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation made “freeing the slaves” the new focus of the war. Many freed African Americans joined the Union army.

  • The Battle of Vicksburg divided the South; the North controlled the Mississippi River.

  • The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the war; the North repelled Lee’s invasion.

  • Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House in 1865 ended the war.


Influence of location and topography on critical developments in the war

  • The Union blockade of southern ports (e.g., Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans)

  • Control of the Mississippi River (e.g., Vicksburg)

  • Battle locations influenced by the struggle to capture capital cities (e.g., Richmond; Washington, D.C.)

  • Control of the high ground (e.g., Gettysburg)


Identify and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history. (USI.1a)


Sequence events in United States history. (USI.1c)
Analyze and interpret maps to explain relationships among landforms, water features, climatic characteristics, and historical events. (USI.1f)
Interpret excerpts from notable documents. (USI.1h)

STANDARD USI.9f

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes, major events, and effects of the Civil War by

f) describing the effects of war from the perspectives of Union and Confederate soldiers (including African American soldiers), women, and enslaved African Americans.

Essential Understandings

Essential Questions

Essential Knowledge

Essential Skills

Life on the battlefield and on the home front was extremely harsh. Many soldiers died from disease and exposure.

What hardships were experienced during the Civil War?
How did the Civil War change the lives of soldiers, women, and slaves?

General effects of the war

  • Family members were often pitted against one another, as were friends against friends.

  • As the war went on, Southern troops became increasingly younger and more poorly equipped and clothed.

  • Much of the South was devastated at the end of the war (e.g., burning of Atlanta and Richmond).

  • Disease was a major killer.

  • Clara Barton, a Civil War nurse, created the American Red Cross.

  • Combat was brutal and often man-to-man.

  • Women were left to run businesses in the North and farms and plantations in the South.

  • The collapse of the Confederacy made Confederate money worthless.


Effects of the war on African Americans

  • African Americans fought in the Union army. Some African Americans accompanied Confederate units in the field.

  • The Confederacy used enslaved African Americans as ship workers, laborers, cooks, and camp workers.

  • The Union moved to enlist African American sailors and soldiers during the war.

  • African American soldiers were paid less than white soldiers.

  • African American soldiers were discriminated against and served in segregated units under the command of white officers.

  • Robert Smalls, an African American sailor and later a Union naval captain, was highly honored for his feats of bravery and heroism. He became a Congressman after the war.

Sequence events in United States history. (USI.1c)
Interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (USI.1d)


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