Causes of the Civil War Project Menu

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Causes of the Civil War Project Menu

Due Date:____________________

Parent Signature: ____________________________________

Circle the project that you will be completing.


1. You must choose a topic for a project from the list below. You will turn in the completed project and complete an oral presentation. The oral presentation portion of this project must be 4-6 minutes in length.

2. Project presentations will take place on the due date or shortly thereafter.

3. This project will count as a quiz/project grade for Social Studies.

4. Pre-presentation work requirements:

  • Bibliography due on due date.

  • Note cards used during your presentation [due after presentation]

5. Classroom computers will be available before and after school for research purposes.

6. You must have at LEAST 4 sources. At least 1 source must be a book.

Project Choices

  1. 3D Pre- Civil War 1860 Map of the United States: Using a poster board, you will create an 1860 U.S. map. Through visualization, you will note which states existed at that time, their state capitals, dates of statehood and any other interesting or relevant facts. Please also include:

    1. Slave or Free States

    2. Mason-Dixon Line

    3. Geographical features, including major rivers, lakes, railroad lines, etc.

    4. Major areas of industry and farming for each state

    5. Major cities and ports

    6. A map legend with appropriates details and symbols

  1. Underground Railroad Facts, History and Maps: You will become the class “expert” on the topic of the Underground Railroad. For your project, you will present to the class your research into history, routes, depots and conductors of the Underground Railroad. Please also include:

    1. A model, project or poster showing the map of the United States with the Underground Railroad routes noted on it. All states, capitals, rivers and geographical features will be noted and a map legend included.

    2. Include factual information regarding the “numbers” of people involved as conductors, escaped slaves and so forth.

    3. Include the names and basic biographical information of some of the conductors of the Underground Railroad.

    4. Please also note when it was first started and where the name “Underground Railroad” originated.

  1. Slavery and Secession Partner Project: One partner will choose the North and the other the South. Each partner will research their side’s arguments regarding slavery and basis of secession. Each partner will present a power point that includes the following information:

    1. What was your side’s argument for or against secession? Please include information from at least 3 primary sources which may include the following:

      1. Speeches, cartoons, court cases, treaties or documents

    2. Present your side’s position on slavery. You will argue your position and present at least 3 primary sources that were used to support your side of the argument.

    3. Be sure to include the “numbers” related to slavery in the United States. You can insert charts or graphs to present these items.

    4. A history of human slavery in the world and the United States. For example, what was the origin of human slavery, what countries have participated in slavery, the history of slavery in the U.S.

    5. Include information of where human slavery still exists in the world today. Give at least 2 specific examples of countries that still have slavery. Please note details on why and how it still exists in those countries today.

  1. John Brown’s Raid: Create the front page of a newspaper that exclusively reports on John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry. The front page should include all the normal elements found on a newspaper. Please also include the following:

    1. A short but detailed biography of John Brown

    2. Information regarding others involved in the raid.

    3. Details about the raid= Use descriptive language so that we can picture this event in our minds.

    4. Any interesting or relevant facts that pertain to either John Brown or the Raid on Harper’s Ferry.

    5. Actual photographs, documents, maps, cartoons and primary resources related to this event.

    6. An editorial/opinion article piece, of at least 150 words, discussing whether John Brown should be viewed as a “hero” or “villain” based on his actions and opinions.

  1. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates Partner Project: One partner will choose to be Lincoln and the other Douglas. Together, you will research this series of debates and create 4 pages of an 8th grade U.S. history textbook dedicated to the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Please include the following:

    1. Historic pictures, maps, quotes, time lines, etc. related to this event.

    2. An organized structure that includes color, topic headers, etc.

    3. Partners will also conduct a mock debate for their classmates by taking the side of their historic debater. Be sure to include quotes from each of the 7 debates.

    4. The topic you will address during your debate will be “Slavery in the United States”

    5. Any interesting or relevant facts from this event

  1. Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Research Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and determine the main characters, plot line and events of this novel. Create a comic strip to be used to explain/summarize the story to your classmates. Please be sure to include the following:

    1. At least 12 detailed and colorful cells

    2. Actual dialogue taken from the book

    3. On the back of your comic strip, a short biography on Harriet Beecher Stowe

    4. On the back of your comic strip, note the “numbers” related to this novel. For example, when was it published, how many have been sold, etc.

    5. Be prepared to explain to your classmates why Lincoln referred to Mrs. Stowe as “little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.”

  1. The Dred Scott Case: Research the Dred Scott v. Sanford case and become our class expert on this topic. Present your findings using a power point presentation or project/ poster board. Please include the following:

    1. A time line noting the major events of this case and Mr. Scott’s life

    2. Note the 3 items that the Supreme Court was asked to rule on in this case.

    3. A summary of majority (6) opinion of the justices

    4. A summary of the minority (3) opinion of the dissenting judges

    5. What impact did this case have on the U.S.? List at least 3 effects it caused.

    6. Answer why this case is considered a cause of the Civil War.

  1. Southern Plantation Model: Create a teaching model of the southern plantation. Use this model to teach about the role of all the people living on that plantation. Please include the following:

    1. Identify and describe each participant in the southern plantation life.

    2. Note all the geographical, farming and building features that one would find on a pre-1860 southern plantation.

    3. List all the “numbers” related to the southern plantation system. For example, number of slaves, plantations, acreage, crops. This can be done by an added chart, graph or list.

    4. Note the impact of the southern plantation on the southern economy. Was it positive or negative? Why?

  1. Pre-Civil War Cartoons: Draw two political cartoons that depict opposing sides of a pre-civil war topic of your choice. Be prepared to discuss the different elements of your illustrations that show opposing views, while also having the ability to use those same pieces to persuade your audience if you were asked to take one side. Please include the following:

    1. Choose a pre-civil war topic that we discussed in class that had 2 opposing sides. For example, emancipating the slaves, state’s rights, slaves and or women having the right to vote or expanding slavery into new territories.

    2. Each cartoon will be drawn on a regular 8 inch by 11 inch piece of white paper.

    3. Your cartoons will be detailed and colorful. You will need to explain to the class and your teacher why you chose those details. Be sure to research historic primary source documents, letters, laws, cartoons, clothing, etc., from this period to support your choice in details.

    4. Be prepared to discuss the opposing sides to your chosen issue when you present your cartoons to your class.

  1. Slave Rebellions in the Pre-Civil War United States. There were at least 200 separate slave rebellions in the United States prior to the Civil War. Research this topic and present to the class your findings on a project/poster board or power point presentation. Please include the following:

    1. Note the history of slave rebellions in the United States. Where/when did they begin and why?

    2. Based on your research, include a map noting where the larger slave rebellions occurred and why. On that map, also note when slavery was outlawed in each state.

    3. Choose at least 4 rebellions to present and discuss during your presentation.

    4. Besides open rebellion, what were some other means that slaves used to rebel against their owners?

    5. Include the “numbers” related to this topic, such as, how many participated in rebellions, how many were killed, total number of slaves, etc. This can be presented via chart or graph on your project.

    6. Do slave rebellions still exist in the world today? If so, where and why?


Your bibliography is due the same day as your project

  • You will follow the MLA bibliography format to cite the sources you used for your project.

  • You are required to have at least 4 sources for your project, including one book.

  • Here’s a free website that you can use that will make this endeavor fairly painless:



Your bibliography must:

  • Have a title

  • Be double spaced

  • Have a second line indented

  • Be alphabetized based on the first letter of the source

Presentation Notecards

Notecards used to prepare and present your project are due immediately following your formal presentation.

Online Resources for Primary Resources

  1. Library of Congress Digital Collection:

  2. Google Scholar (search for court cases and news articles):

  3. Infotopia ( Primary Source Search):

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