The Civil War Revisited

The Civil War Revisited
Caroline Harrison: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two to three class periods


The American Civil War disrupted life in both the North and the South.  Armies strode across the landscape, Sherman marched to the sea, and thousands of men died.  Although the War occurred prior to Harrison’s administration, it left its imprint on the lives of all who were alive during those bloody years.  Caroline Harrison was no exception.


The purpose of this lesson is to allow students to move beyond the generals and battles approach to the Civil War and to explore, instead, the issues, ideals, and outcomes of the great conflict that left a president dead, a region destitute, and a nation in shambles.    

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Access to print reference materials


1.  It is assumed that students are familiar with the War itself and have at least a rudimentary understanding of the slavery issue.  This lesson seeks to enhance their understanding of the cultural, economic, and political impact of the Civil War.
2.  Tell the students that they are a fact-finding committee for the newly formed American Civil War Historical Society whose purpose is to increase understanding of the impact of that great conflict on American life in the latter part of the nineteenth century.  Working in groups, it is their job to explore the cultural, economic, and political impact of the Civil War on all phases of American life. 

3.  Divide students into at least 5 groups (listed below).  The teacher may add others.

  • Education
  • Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation
  • Daily life

4.  Using the resources listed in the Websites section of this lesson and other resources the teacher or students may find, have each group research the impact of the Civil War on their particular area, making certain to address issues of culture, politics, and the economy.
5.  As each of the groups completes their research, have them plan their presentation to the membership of the Society.  The presentation should include not only a summary of their findings but also contain artifacts and/or visual representations to illustrate their research.  PowerPoints are excellent.

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may choose to have the groups write papers rather than have oral presentations, in the interest of time or his/her own classroom requirements.

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was created and developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.