Geography and Society: By the end of this lesson,students will:

  • make inferences about how geography impacted the North and the South in terms of liberty, society, and economy
  • discuss the meanings of John C. Calhoun's Slavery as a Positive Good and its impact on both the North and South


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


Map from the LOC showing the layout of a New England town and a Southern plantation

Slavery as a Positive Good by John C. Calhoun, 6 February 1837

Norther Villages, Southern Plantations

As you view these two (2) images, write down the differences in layout and feel. Explain how those factors may have impacted society.

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Slavery, a Positive Good

As you read this document, list all of the untruths, or lies, that John C. Calhoun makes.

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Warm Up

Warm Up: Using a map of a New England town and the drawing of a Southern plantation, explain the impact of geography that led to their exclusive establishment in the North and South. 

Follow Up: Brainstorm the different ways that geography has affected the differences between the New England and Southern cultures. List the impact/results of those differences in society and economics.

From the list above, infer the impact of geography on the social mores, religion, and politics in both the North and the South.

New Material

In this lesson, students will be viewing an image of a NE town and a Southern plantation. From these images, they should infer the reasoning behind their creation, and infer the impact upon these communites in terms of social attitudes, pollitical roles of those in power, as well as the economic role that each player has in hs or her particular situation.

Students should pay close attention to the style that the artist/draftsman used in creating thse images. How are they the same and how are they differnt. How do they represent the relationships between people and buildings. 

Students should discover that geographic features, soil, weather, and other factors will lead to different economic models. Have students describe those models and then defend them (industrial v. agrarian).

One man who supported the agrarian South and slavery was a Senator by the nname of John C. Calhoun. He gave a speech on February 6, 1837 (Slavery, a Positive Good). Let's review it.

When looking through John C. Calhoun's peice, students had been asked to find any outright untruths. What does Calhoun say that is not supportable in any way? The answer, is nothing. It is, however, what he doesn't say that is important. Students should begin to develop the ability to read between the lines when it comes to politcal staements. 

The Calhoun piece should annotated for homework, and students should write a couple of paragraphs describing the differences between the views of liberty in the South and North for homework.


Students will be in small groups to discuss and analyze the images that have been passed out.

For Slavery as a Positive Good, students will explain why certain passages in the text are not factually true, and others will attempt to show that they are. 


Students will have written lists in their notebooks regarding the images used in class.

Annotated papers (Slavery, a Positive Good)

Short essays on the defiinitions of liberty in the North and South

Closure and Reflection

Review your notes for both your outlines and the images you worked no early in the class, and on an Exit Slip, write down five items that you think contributed most to creating tensions that will lead to the Civil War.