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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Lincoln's Words

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  • Students will analyze President Abraham Lincoln's documents and speeches
  • Students will learn about President Lincoln by examining his words
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(CNN Student News) -- Many people around the world consider Abraham Lincoln to be one of the most eloquent leaders of all time. Challenge your students to learn more about Abraham Lincoln by examining his words.


Have students work in groups or individually to research one speech, letter or writing by Abraham Lincoln. (The Lincoln Bicentennial Web site in the "Don't Miss" section of this Learning Activity is a good place to start.) Direct students to answer the following questions about their selections:

  1. What speech, order or letter did you choose?
  2. When was it given?
  3. What was its purpose?
  4. What are some memorable lines and phrases from the selection, and what do they mean?
  5. What does this document indicate about the challenges facing the United States at the time that it was written?
  6. What does his choice of words indicate about President Lincoln?

Instruct students or groups to pose as newspaper writers in the 1860s and use their answers to write an analysis of the selected document or speech. Make sure that students include how they think that history might look upon what President Lincoln has said and how future presidents might seek wisdom in his words.

Correlated Standards


II. What are the foundations of the American political system?

B. What are the distinctive characteristics of American society?

Don't Miss

1. The American idea of constitutional government. Students should be able to explain the central ideas of American constitutional government and their history.

The National Standards for Civics and Government ( are published by the Center for Civic Education (

U.S. History:

Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction

Standard 1: The causes of the Civil War

Standard 2: The course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people

The National Standards for History ( are published by the National Center for History in the Schools (

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