History Mystery: The Causes of the American Civil War

This unit is in the form of an ActiveHistory Mystery. Through a roleplay, stimulus images and information slips, students formulate questions, speculate answers, then research for themselves to produce a report which is then peer-assessed against a standard markscheme. The full investigation takes 2 hours of classroom time and at least another hour of individual research time.

If teachers wish to deliver this unit in less time, it is easy to do so. For example:
(a) Simply give each student a complete sheet of information slips from the outset to answer the questions;
(b) Don’t require students to produce a full written essay on the topic – instead, simply choose one of the Extension / Additional Activities listed below.

Discussion points to follow:
a. If you had to divide 100% of blame for the outbreak of the civil war between the slave states and the free states, what percentage would you allocate to each side? Explain your answer.
b. At what point did the civil war become inevitable? Explain your answer.