Lesson Plan - 1862: Antietam and Emancipation
Civil War
Lesson Plan

1862: Antietam and Emancipation

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A Civil War Curriculum Lesson

Grades: High School

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

Goal:  Students will be able to analyze the meaning and impact of the Emancipation Proclamation.


  1. Students will be able to discuss the political and military conditions that led to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and General Order 143.
  2. After reading the document, students will be able to analyze in writing the meaning of the Emancipation Proclamation.
  3. After reading reactions to the proclamation, students will be able to discuss the different attitudes and viewpoints that people had towards the Emancipation Proclamation. 


Download the lesson plan, along with the following materials and PowerPoint, at the bottom of this page.

  • Sticky Notes
  • Antietam and Emancipation PowerPoint
  • Battle of Antietam Summary
  • Watch the Battle of Antietam summary video
  • Emancipation Proclamation Analysis Sheet
  • Emancipation Proclamation Analysis Sheet Teacher Version
  • General Order 143 Excerpt
  • The Public Reacts
  • Watch the Emancipation Proclamation In4 video. 

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

  1. Write on the board:  What does “emancipation” mean?
  2. As students enter the room, they will pick up a sticky note and write their answer on it. 
  3. Have students place the sticky note on the top corner of their desk or work space.  This will be revisited at the end of the class.


Print out the PowerPoint with notes prior to class. There are notes included with the slides that can be on the printed slides, but won’t be seen by your students during the presentation.

Activity 1

Use the Antietam and Emancipation PowerPoint to guide the lesson.

  1. Hand out:
    1. the Battle of Antietam Summary 
    2. Emancipation Proclamation Analysis Sheet
    3. General Order 143 Excerpt.

These worksheets will be referred to in the PowerPoint presentation. When they are, use this time to read and discuss.  

Activity 2

  1. Hand out The Public Reacts
  2. Have students read the quotes and complete the questions


Have students look back at the answers on their sticky notes. Ask students if they were correct in the answer they made at the beginning of class. Even if they were correct, do they know more now? What exactly did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

Assessment in this Lesson:

  • Informal assessment through discussion questions within PowerPoint.
  • Completed Emancipation Analysis sheet; students will complete the associated questions, noting when the proclamation went into effect and under which conditions slaves were freed.
  • Informal assessment of discussion based on The Public Reacts; students will discuss the different attitudes and viewpoints that people had towards the Emancipation Proclamation.