By the end of this lesson, students will:

  • create a timeline of the Dred Scott case
  • discuss the effect of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry


DC Content Power Standards :
1.6, 1.7, 1.9 Influences on American Revolution, Formation of Constitution, Effects of Civil War and Reconstruction
DC Content Supporting Standards:
DCPS 11.1.9: Explain the effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction and of the Industrial Revolution, including demographic shifts and the emergence in the late 19th century of the United States as a world power. (G, P, E)
DC Historical and Social Studies Skills Standards:
HCI.1, HCI.3, HCI.7 Compare Past to Present, Connecting Events and Trends, Meaning/Impact of Historical Events
Common Core Reading for Literacy in Social Studies Standards:
RH.11-12.1, 2 , 4, 10: Cite textual evidence, summarize, vocab, read complex texts
Common Core Writing for Literacy in Social Studies Standards:
WHST.11-12.8a, 8c, 5a Use print and digital sources, Determine value of a source, Brainstorming, Outlining


[Here, you should include a list of primary and secondary sources as well as other materials you will be using in the class. Attach all handouts and readings you will use for this lesson to the curricular unit.]

Warm Up

With other members of your group, use your notes from last night's video, and in conjunction with the Time-Line and other handouts I have passed out, jot down some notes as to the appropriateness of action taken at each step of Scott's judicial journey from the perspective of a slaveholder and an abolitionist.

Additional questions:

  • What ulterior motive did Dred Scott have for suing for his freedom?
  • Who should have decided whether slavery was legal in the United States? The President? The Congress? The Supreme Court? Why? support your answer.
  • How did Chief Justice Taney overstep judicial bounds with his decision?

In fifteen-minutes we will have a discussion dealing with the real issues raised by the Dred Scott decision. A Moderator and a Scribe need to volunteer.

Dred Scott Time Line

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Dred Scott's Fight for Freedom: Additional Reading

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The Dred Scott Decision

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New Material

Map of John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

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Students will review their notes and look over the map of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and will participate in a short teacher led discussion about John Brown's acitivities from Kansas to Harpers Ferry.

Afterwards, students will read John Brown's Final Speech aloud in class, round robin style. Students should focus on Brown's words in regards to his responsability for the deaths of slave owners and pepole in Harpers Ferry. A Moderator will help the class to try to understand what Brown was saying and how he felt his role in all of it fit. 

Additional questions:

  • What was Brown's stated reasons for attacking the armory at Harpers Ferry?
  • Why did Brown deviate from his plan?
  • Do you feel that Brown actually had any intention of following up on his original plan? Why or why not?
  • What do you believe was Brown's actual purpose, his true goal? Why?

John Brown's Final Speech

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Students will read Thoreau's piece about John Brown and analyze his perspective on the rightful place of John Brown in American history.

For Homework, students will write a one page paper summarizing Thoreau's essay and will turn it in when we nexrt meet. 

Thoreau on John Brown

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Essay on Thoreau's essay on John Brown

Exit slip:

  • Of the two events that we looked at today, which one do you think had the greaer effect on the country? Why? Support your choice with some of the conclusions discussed in class.

Closure and Reflection

We have looked at two events that "pushed the buttons" of both the pro and anti-slavery forces. Let's list the impact of each on the North and South. Any volunteers?

Tomorrow ladies and gentlemen, we will look at the straw that will break the camel's back and lead to Southern succession. Can anyone tell me what event that was?