Justice, Rights, and a Presidential Assassination!

Justice, Rights, and a Presidential Assassination!


President Lincoln was fatally shot just five days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S Grant ending the Civil War for all practical purposes. Within days, people had been arrested; within weeks, the shooter himself had been killed, and within three months, eight of the nine people believed to be involved were arrested, tried, and found guilty. Four were executed; four were imprisoned. The one who evaded authorities during these months was found a year and a half later, tried, and set free. In a time without cell phones, satellite imagery, and television, the alleged perpetrators were caught with a level of efficiency not seen since. The purpose of this lesson is to put the student back in time to experience President Lincoln’s assassination and its aftermath within the backdrop of the end of the Civil War, to organize the details of that assassination by analyzing the primary sources that unraveled those details, and to determine how much the urgency and desire to bring justice to those involved affected how the events unfolded. Once students have done this, they will create digital displays of their own that answer the question, “How are rights balanced during times of national crises?”


Priority TEKS:

(8.8)  History. The student understands individuals, issues, and events of the Civil War. The student is expected to:

(A)  explain the roles played by significant individuals during the Civil War, including Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Abraham Lincoln, and heroes such as congressional Medal of Honor recipients William Carney and Philip Bazaar.

(B)  explain the causes of the Civil War, including sectionalism, states’ rights, and slavery, and significant events of the Civil War, including the firing on Fort Sumter; the battles of Antietam, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg; the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation; Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House; and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

(8.19)  Citizenship. The student understands the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States. The student is expected to:

(B)  summarize rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights

Supporting TEKS:

(8.1)  History. The student understands traditional historical points of reference in U.S. history through 1877. The student is expected to:

(A)  identify the major eras and events in U.S. history through 1877, including colonization, revolution, drafting of the Declaration of Independence, creation and ratification of the Constitution, religious revivals such as the Second Great Awakening, early republic, the Age of Jackson, westward expansion, reform movements, sectionalism, Civil War, and Reconstruction, and describe their causes and effects;

(B)  apply absolute and relative chronology through the sequencing of significant individuals, events, and time periods.

(8.22)  Citizenship. The student understands the importance of effective leadership in a constitutional republic. The student is expected to:

(A)  analyze the leadership qualities of elected and appointed leaders of the United States such as George Washington, John Marshall, and Abraham Lincoln.

Social Studies Skills:

(8.29)  Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired through established research methodologies from a variety of valid sources, including electronic technology. The student is expected to:

(A)  differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about the United States;

(B)  analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions;

(C)  organize and interpret information from outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps;

(D)  identify points of view from the historical context surrounding an event and the frame of reference which influenced the participants;

(E)  support a point of view on a social studies issue or event;

(F)  identify bias in written, oral, and visual material;

(G)  evaluate the validity of a source based on language, corroboration with other sources, and information about the author



  • Documents listed in Resources
  • 7 Posters of LOC “Observe, Reflect, and Question” sheet, laminated, and ready for class recording of overarching questions; use 1 for class projection, 1 for each group (Can be reused)
  • Matrix
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Copies of Hook for Day 2 for each group in each class
  • Copies of Closing Activity for each group in each class
  • Copies of Scavenger Hunt Activity for each group in each class
  • Access to Internet
  • Pic Collage application
  • Fotobabble application


$100,000 reward! The murderer of our late beloved President, Abraham Lincoln is still

at large. U.S. War Department. Washington, D.C. 1865. Lib. of Congress U.S.

Govt Web. 25 May 2014. <http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/lprbscsm.scsm1046>


A nation bowed in grief will rise in might to exterminate the leaders of this accursed

rebellion, 1865. Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web. 23 May 2014. <http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/lprbscsm.scsm0410>


The Conspirators. Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web. 20 June 2014.



Daily Monitor Extra, Special Dispatches, arrest of Booth. The Daily Monitor. Concord,

New Hampshire, 16 April, 1865. Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt Web. 20 May 2014.



Execution of the conspirators. Praparing [sic] for execution, spring the trap [done] in two

panels. Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web. 4 June 2014



Front page of New York Times, Monday, Apr. 10, 1865, Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web.

8 May 2014. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2006682583/>


John Wilkes Booth, 1837-1865. Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt Web. 5 June 2014.

            < http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2005687471/>


Kimmel, C. The end of the rebellion in the United States. 1865. Kimmel and Foster.

New York, 1866. Lib. of Cong. U.S> Govt Web. 12 May 2014.



National calamity! Lincoln & Seward assassinated! The Courier—Extra Apr. 15, 1865,

Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web. 11 May 2014. <http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/lprbscsm.scsm0429>


Six printed mourning cards. 1865? Stern Broadside v. 8, no. 12. Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt

Web. 3 June 2014. <http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/alrb/stbdsd/00801200/001.html>


http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm012.html 6 June 2014.


http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/civil/jb_civil_lincoln_1.html 6 June 2014.


http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/lincolnconspiracy/lincolnconspiracy.html 6

June 2014.

Download Materials

Guiding Questions

How does a nation react in times of crisis?

What do you think would have happened if Lincoln lived?