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

North Carolina's official entrance into the Civil War took place on the floor of the Commons Hall in the North Carolina State Capitol. A special convention called in May 1861 responded with an Ordinance of Secession effectively withdrawing North Carolina from the Union and casting her lot with the newly formed Confederate States of America. During the war, the capitol was the center of political activity and military command for the Vance administration. The fall of Raleigh to Union forces in April 1865 cemented the fate of the state, as the capitol building stood witness to the surrender of the North Carolina civil government to General Sherman's troops. Only a few days later, the remainder of Confederate military forces surrendered to General Sherman at the Bennett farmhouse near present day Durham.

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 the North Carolina State Capitol is a component for meeting the following NCSCS Goals for 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.
4.02 Describe the political and military developments of the Civil War and analyze their effect on the outcome of the war.
4.03 Assess North Carolina's role in the Civil War and analyze the social and economic impact of the war on the state.
4.04 Evaluate the importance of the roles played by individuals at the state and national levels during the Civil War and Reconstruction Period.
4.05 Analyze the political, economic, and social impact of Reconstruction on the state and identify the reasons why Reconstruction came to an end.

The story of the North Carolina State Capitol 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.
2A - The student understands how the resources of the Union and Confederacy affected the course of the war. Identify the turning points of the war and evaluate how political, military, and diplomatic leadership affected the outcome of the conflict.

Standard 3 - How various reconstruction plans succeeded or failed.
3A - The student understands the political controversy over Reconstruction.
3B - The student understands the Reconstruction programs to transform social relations in the South.
3C - The student understands the successes and failures of Reconstruction in the South, North, and West.

Program Objectives

  1. Students will understand why North Carolina seceded from the union and how and why it was a difficult decision.
  2. Students will learn about North Carolina's wartime governors and the political and military actions they took during the course of the war.