Lesson Plan: Stagville and the Civil War (8th Grade)

The plantation holdings of the Bennehan-Cameron families of piedmont North Carolina were among the largest in the South. By 1860, the family owned almost 30,000 acres and nearly 900 slaves. Stagville, a plantation of several thousand acres, lay at the center of this enormous estate. While the Civil War raged around them, the residents of Stagville were insulated by land and money. The plantation, a self-sustaining community, continued through the war, but it was destined to fail with the defeat of the Confederacy. The vast amount of personal and business papers, as well as several original structures that remain, help us understand the workings of an antebellum plantation and the lives of the people who lived and labored there.

This education program, designed for 8th grade students, is one in a series that provides comprehensive, site-based learning experiences concerning the state's Civil War history. The program is a stand-alone unit, but its value is multiplied when combined with one or more additional units. Each program contains at least one supplemental lesson plan. These plans work best in support of the on-site activities, but can also be used if a site visit is not possible.

Program Goals

The story of Historic Stagville is a component for meeting the following NCSCS Goals for 8th Grade Social Studies:

  • 4.01 Identify and analyze the significance of the causes of secession from the Union and compare reactions in North Carolina to reactions in other regions of the nation.
  • 4.03 Assess North Carolina's role in the Civil War and analyze the social and economic impact of the war on the state.

The story of Historic Stagville is a component for meeting the following National Standard for the Social Sciences:

  • Standard 2 - The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people.
  • 2B - The student understands the social experience of the war on the battlefield and homefront.

Program Objectives

  1. Students will understand how the Civil War affected the lives of the inhabitants and the operations of the plantation at Stagville.
  2. Students will gain experience in examining primary source documents for genealogical study.
  3. Students will become familiar with the genre of the slave narrative and will engage critical thinking skills in examining narratives of members of the enslaved community at Stagville.