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The Immediate Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation
Unit Lesson

Essential Questions

  • How has social disagreement and collaboration been beneficial to American society?

  • What document or artifact best summarizes the United States and why?


  • Students will analyze the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation by working in groups.

  • Students will identify the major effects of the Emancipation Proclamation by writing a comparative essay.

Primary Sources

The Emancipation Proclamation

Other Materials


The Emancipation Proclamation with annotations

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. The teacher should begin by providing a short description of the life of a typical black American in the antebellum North and South. Explain how the Civil War began and what black Americans' roles were during this time.

  2. After establishing some background knowledge of the Civil War and life in the South, the teacher will read to the students or have the students read the entirety of the Emancipation Proclamation.

  3. Give a brief overview of the Emancipation Proclamation, avoiding too much depth so that students can formulate their own ideas of the Proclamation later in the class.

  4. Students will be sorted into four groups, one for each of the four major groups: the Union states, the Confederate states, the Union Army, and black Americans.

  5. The groups will then reread the Proclamation together. The students are to use the document as well as previous knowledge to create a historical argument that their assigned group was the one most deeply impacted by the Proclamation. Students should use the accompanying worksheet to keep their findings and ideas organized.

  6. Once the groups have prepared their arguments, the teacher will call the class back together. Each group will give an oral presentation from their assigned group's viewpoint. Students who are not currently presenting should take notes on the presenters' argument and findings, which they will use to write a 1-2 page summary of the Emancipation Proclamation's immediate impact.


Abolitionist: A person who favors the discontinuation of a practice or institution, especially used in 19th century United States to mean someone against slavery.

Antebellum: Belonging or relating to the time before the Civil War.

Emancipation: The act or process of setting someone free or of freeing someone from restrictions.

Plans in this Unit

The Immediate Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation

Grade Level

High School


One 50 minute class period

Standards/Eligible Content

8.3.9.A-B, D

About the Author

This lesson was created by Nicholas Gagliano. Updated for SAS by Kaitlyn Pettengill, Education Intern, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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