Election of 1864: Inquiry Middle School Lesson Plan

Grades: Middle School

Approximate Length of Time: 3 hours

Goal: Students will be able to discuss the various factors that contributed to Lincoln’s 1864 re-election.


  1. Students will be able to complete a graphic organizer, finding key information within primary and secondary sources.
  2. Students will be able to address a question about a historic event, providing evidence from primary and secondary sources.

Common Core:

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

NCSS Standards for Social Studies:

2—Time, Continuity, and Change
3—People, Places, and Environment
5—Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
6—Power, Authority, and Governance
10—Civic Ideals and Practices


This is an inquiry lesson where students will do research to answer the inquiry question related to the election of 1864. Students will develop a hypothesis, search for evidence in multiple primary and secondary sources, and complete a graphic organizer. Through this process, students will develop a strong answer to the inquiry question posed at the beginning.

Inquiry Question:

What events, actions, and ideas helped Lincoln win the presidential election of 1864?


  • Vocabulary
  • Secondary Source Documents Packet
  • Primary Source Documents Packet
  • Graphic Organizer
  • National Archives Document Analysis
  • Final Essay
  • Highlighters


Section 1 (45 min)

  1. Present the Inquiry Question and hand out the Vocabulary
  2. Have students begin with a hypothesis to answer the inquiry question.
  3. Students will then read through the Secondary Source Documents packet – highlighting, taking notes, answering questions, and making notes in their Graphic Organizer.

Section 2 (1 hour)

  1. Provide students with 6 copies each of the National Archives Document Analysis
  2. Students will then read through the Primary Source Document Packet – highlighting, taking notes, answering questions, filling out the Graphic Organizer, and National Archives Document Analysis as they progress.


Students will answer the inquiry question either orally or in essay form. They should use evidence from their primary and secondary sources. They can use the documents, their notes, and their graphic organizer. Students can do additional research to bolster their argument.

Students can share their responses with the class.

Assessment in this Lesson:

  1. A completed graphic organizer and document analysis form.
  2. Notes taken on graphic organizer, documents, or other notes sheets
  3. A complete answer to the inquiry question with quotes from the provided documents