Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Conflict Analysis: Should the US join the war in Korea?
Kate Sutter
US History: 1877-present
Time Frame:
4-5 15 minute periods at the end of daily lessons or up to 2 90 minute class periods
Korean War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • cooperative learning
  • analyzing primary documents
  • completing graphic organizer

  • Students will be discovering their own knowledge of why the United States was compelled to join the war in Korea and the attitudes toward it.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

DESE Social Studies CLEs for US History  http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/curriculum/GLE/SScle.html

  • 1A – Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances
  • 2A – Checks and Balances in the context of US History
  • 3aI – Expanding role of government
  • 3aL – Changing roles of Separation of Powers
  • 3aW – Domestic and foreign policy during the Cold War
  • 3aX – wars of the 20th century involving the US
  • 7A – distinguish between and analyze primary and secondary sources
  • 7C – distinguish between sources to recognize bias and point of view
  • 7F – interpret primary documents


Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 4: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in contemporary United States history (since 1990).

(K) Examines the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world in the post Cold War era (e.g., domestic and international terrorism, United States as the single superpower, United States involvement in the Middle East conflict, spread and resistance to United States popular culture).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary

4. (A) compares competing historical narratives in United States history by contrasting different historians’ choice of questions, use of sources, and points of view, in order to demonstrate how these factors contribute to different interpretations.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • A History of the United States textbook by Boorstin & Kelley, Prentice Hall, 2007
  • Unforgettable: The Korean War by PBS– This is a new video I just obtained.  I have not watched it yet, but it looked promising. 
  • NARA Document Analysis – this could be copied onto the back of the Conflict Analysis chart. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

5 Stations

  1. National Interests and Beliefs – What was the case for war?
    1. War Department Incoming Classified Message (October 1, 1945) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1945-10-01&documentid=kr-6-14&pagenumber=1
    2. Excerpt from Truman Doctrine Speech (March 12, 1947) – focus toward middle and end http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3343
    3. Niles W. Bond to Eben Ayers, With Attached Telegram (July 14, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?pagenumber=2&documentdate=1950-07-14&documentid=ki-10-8
    4. State Department Opinion Summary (July 24, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-24&documentid=ki-6-5&pagenumber=1
    5. Report to the American People on Korea (April 11, 1951) – transcript and audio at http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3351
    6. Memorandum of Conversation (December 6, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-12-06&documentid=ci-1-1&pagenumber=1
    7. United Nations Security Council Resolution, (June 25, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?pagenumber=1&documentdate=1950-06-25&documentid=ki-17-4
    8. “It’s gettin’ redder ‘n’ redder” political cartoon http://www.marshall.edu/library/speccoll/virtual_museum/dugan/korean_war2.asp


  1. Goals and Objectives – What does the United States want to accomplish?
    1. "The Position of the United States With Respect to Korea," National Security Council Report 8 (April 2, 1948) (scanned page 1 and 3) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?pagenumber=2&documentdate=1948-04-02&documentid=kr-7-1
    2. Correspondence Between Joseph O'Mahoney and Harry S. Truman (June 28, 1950)  - scanned page one only http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-06-28&documentid=ki-17-5&pagenumber=1
    3. Handwritten note by President Truman (June 30, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/korea/large/documents/pdfs/ma-2-2.pdf#zoom=100
    4. Report, National Security Council Policy on Korea (November 6, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-11-06&documentid=ci-3-4&pagenumber=1
    5. Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (July 31, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-31&documentid=ki-22-3&pagenumber=1
    6. Douglas MacArthur to Joint Chiefs of Staff (September 28, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-09-28&documentid=ki-22-16&pagenumber=1
    7. Report, National Security Council Policy on Korea (November 6, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-11-06&documentid=ci-3-4&pagenumber=1
    8. Harry S. Truman to Douglas MacArthur (January 13, 1951) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?pagenumber=1&documentdate=1951-01-13&documentid=ci-2-10
    9. Memo Regarding Instructions to General Douglas MacArthur At the Outbreak of the Korean War, (ca. June 1951) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1951-06-00&documentid=ki-1-8&pagenumber=1


  1. Support –Do the Americans and other nations support going to war?
    1. Carolyn Aquino to Harry S. Truman (June 28, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-06-28&documentid=ki-11-1&pagenumber=1
    2. Correspondence Between Clark M. Clifford and Harry S. Truman (June 30, 1950)  http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-06-30&documentid=ki-17-6&pagenumber=1
    3. Mr. and Mrs. Wylie Akenson to Harry S. Truman (July 12, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-12&documentid=ki-11-22&pagenumber=1
    4. John M. Chang to Harry S. Truman( July 17, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-17&documentid=ki-17-7&pagenumber=1
    5. Ann and George Ash to Harry S. Truman (July 12, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-12&documentid=ki-11-21&pagenumber=1
    6. Memorandum of Conversation (July 19, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-19&documentid=ki-13-12&pagenumber=1
    7. Memorandum of Conversation (July 28, 1950)
    8. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-28&documentid=ki-13-14&pagenumber=1
    9. Mrs. Ronald Whitman, Jr., to Harry S. Truman with Reply From William D. Hassett (August 4, 1950) – just scanned page 2 is necessary http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?pagenumber=2&documentdate=1950-08-04&documentid=ki-11-2
    10. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Ward to Harry S. Truman With Reply From William D. Hassett (August 8, 1950) – just scanned page 2 and 3 are necessary http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-08-08&documentid=ki-11-3&pagenumber=1
    11. Report, "Status of United Nations Offers of Assistance for Korea" (October 6, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-10-06&documentid=ki-18-7&pagenumber=1
    12. Memorandum for the President, "World Reaction to the Wake Island Meeting", October 17, 1950. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-10-17&documentid=ki-18-10&pagenumber=1


  1. Can America Be Successful?
    1. Army Department Message, Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (July 1, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-01&documentid=ki-5-6&pagenumber=1
    2. Army Department Message (July 10, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-10&documentid=ki-21-8&pagenumber=1
    3. Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (July 31, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-07-31&documentid=ki-22-24&pagenumber=1C
    4. correspondence Between James E. Noland and Harry S. Truman (August 29, 1950) – scanned page 2 only http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?pagenumber=2&documentdate=1950-08-29&documentid=ki-11-10
    5. Memorandum for the President (September 27, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-09-27&documentid=ma-1-8&pagenumber=1
    6. Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (September 29, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-09-29&documentid=ki-22-20&pagenumber=1
    7. Douglas MacArthur to Department of the Army (November 6, 1950) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-11-06&documentid=ki-22-23&pagenumber=1


  1. Constitution and Legal Issues
    1. John B. Moullette to Clarence E. Moullette (January 16, 1951) – especially paragraph 5 http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1951-01-16&documentid=kp-8-12&pagenumber=1
    2. Notes and Memoranda Regarding President Truman's June 29, 1950 Press Conference (ca. June 1951) http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1951-06-00&documentid=ki-3-17&pagenumber=1
    3. The President’s News Conference June 29, 1950 http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=594
    4. US  Constitution – Article 1 Section 8 http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A1Sec8.html
    5. US Constitution – Article 2 Section 2 http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_A2Sec2.html
    6. UN Charter, Chapter 5 Article 23-25 http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/unchart.htm
    7. UN Charter, Chapter 7 Article 42 http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/un/unchart.htm

Full description of activity or assignment.

The teacher will:

  1. provide primary and secondary sources pertaining to the sections of the chart.  The teacher may make one large packet for students to categorize or 4 create stations of documents/resources of a generally similar nature.  Many of these are listed in the Secondary and Primary Source sections of this document.  Others can be added, eliminated, or substituted.

  2. copy one Conflict Analysis and as many NARA Document Analysis papers as desired.  (Consider doing this front-and-back to save paper so that each student gets a copy of each document on one sheet of paper.) 
    1. One way to require individual analysis in the midst of cooperative learning is to require each student to complete a Document Analysis for at least one primary source (or even source one per station) that is different from every other member of their group.

  3. set up 5 stations with a collection of documents at each one.  NUMBER or somehow denote the documents for each station for ease of use (A1, A2, D7, D8, etc). 

  4. Determine how long his/her students will need to spend at each station and have a timing method in place.

  5. Consider ways to split up the class into 5 groups, whether through pre-divided groups or through random methods.

  6. Oversee and facilitate the students during the activity.  Make sure groups are progressing appropriately and working together.

Students will:

  1. analyze the sources and summarize their findings in the provided Conflict Analysis chart.

  2. individually be responsible for completing a different NARA Document Analysis (unique among their group mates).

  3. rotate between the stations for a pre-determined amount of time until their Conflict Analysis chart is complete.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Conflict Analysis Scoring Guide







Completing Graphic Organizer

up to 3 points per box


shows little to no effort, incomplete, may be copied


May be complete or incomplete, partial thought given to answers, may appear “hurried,” may or may not have used info from a variety of documents at each station


Complete, answers show effort and proof of thinking about different documents


NARA Document Analysis


shows little to no effort, incomplete, may be copied, did not choose a different document


May be complete or incomplete, little thought given to answers, may appear “hurried”


Complete, answers show effort and proof of thinking, detailed answers


Cooperative Learning


Did not help group achieve goals of assignment, copied from others, showed little effort, did not include or respect member(s) input

--Possibly worked alone--


May or may not have helped group complete assignment, difficulty staying on task, less than appropriate participation in the work, may or may not have displayed respect of group members


Worked hard to complete your own assignment while  helping group understand information, appropriate participation by the group member, respectful of input from all group members




Incomplete or not written, very basic, shows lack of effort, evidence, or thought


Short answer given with little or no evidence cited, may not show that student has learned from the various documents


Complete answer with several pieces of evidence given, shows learning that has come from the  different parts of the activity


Comments or other reasons for grade given:


Total points:







American History: Conflict Analysis

Conflict or Issue  _________________________________________________                  Leader  _____________________________________


Document Summary



Thoughts of

President / Gov’t / Military

American People



National Interests and Beliefs  - Why should we do this? 







Objectives and Goals– What do we want to accomplish?







Support by Americans and the World – do others support the president?







Ability to Succeed – Can we achieve our goals?







Constitutional Issues – What does the Constitution say?



Possible Consequences of Joining:           1.

(Positive or negative)                             


Conclusion – Should the United States go to war in Korea?                   Circle One:           Yes             No

Why: (GIVE EXAMPLES of evidence)