Lincoln’s message to the Senate, 1861

The Civil War is rich with primary source materials ranging from photographs to speeches to letters and much more. What a great opportunity for students to experience firsthand the depths of despair people felt at having a war within the nation.

President Lincoln hoped to end the conflict without bloodshed, but when it became obvious that was impossible he wanted to expedite the process as much as possible.

At the time of this speech, on July 5, 1861 several states had seceded and the attack on Fort Sumter had already occurred.

This speech is Lincoln appealing to the first session of the 37th Congress to take action in order to end the war quickly. We have included a page from the Journal of the Senate as well as questions and answers.

For more resources on teaching this era check out our PowerPoints:

Classroom history games:

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