Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Factors that influenced President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation
Linda Winer
US History
Time Frame:
7 days or longer as needed
Civil War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Presidents do not usually make political decisions in isolation .Students will understand that presidents make decisions after conferring with others such as Cabinet members, members of “unofficial

kitchen cabinets”, first ladies, and others. Young people will work individually and in groups.

  • To compare and contrast advice given to President Lincoln as regards the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

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

  • USH1 Students will analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events in U.S. History from 1860 to the present.
  • USH2 Students will make connections between the past and the present.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation” Allen Guelzo
  • Teacher’s lessons and notes and handouts
  • Poster of Lincoln’s Cabinet
  • Mr Lincoln’s White House.com
  • Biography.com

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Emancipation Proclamation
  • Preliminary Proclamation
  • Painting by Francis Carpenter
  • Newpaper articles from the time period. For example, the London Times said,”Where he has no power Mr Lincoln will set the Negroes free;where he retains power he will consider them as slaves.” Page 227 from the book “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.”

Full description of activity or assignment.

“In Cabinet my view is that in questions affecting the whole country there should be full and frequent consultations.”-Abraham Lincoln,July 4,1864. The young people will look up the gentlemen who made up Lincoln’s Cabinet and ascertain their opinions of the Emancipation Proclamation and their advice and comments about the issuing of it.

For example, some members of the Cabinet were in agreement that slavery was wrong and had to be abolished but didn’t believe in equality between Whites and Blacks.

For extra credit students will look up 7 present Cabinet members and  write a short biography of a page or two about each one of them. Look up Secretaries of War(Defense), Treasury,

State, Attorney General, Navy, Interior, and Postmaster General.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Quality of oral presentation to the class.
  • In your opinion did the Cabinet member present correct advice to the President.
  • One page-Would you have voted for the Proclamation? Why or why not?