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

Somerset Place, one of North Carolina's largest antebellum plantations, illustrates what life was like for the people who lived there prior to the Civil War. In 1785, Somerset Place began with almost 110,000 acres, and over the next 80 years it relied on the forced labor of more than 861 enslaved people. By examining what occurred on and around this plantation during the Civil War, students will see how the conflict and the ultimate emancipation of the enslaved community destroyed the plantation structure.

This education program, designed for 8th grade students, is one in a series developed by the Division of State Historic Sites and Properties 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 Somerset Place is a component for meeting the following NCSCOS Goals for Social Studies:

8.H.1.1 Explain the causes and effects of conflict in North Carolina and the nation.

8.H.1.2 Summarize how debate, negotiation, compromise, and cooperation have been used in the history of North Carolina and the nation.

The story of Somerset Place 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 Somerset Place.
  2. Students will use critical thinking skills and writing skills to analyze primary source documents to learn about circumstances at Somerset Place during the war.