Students examine a map of Iowa and learn the progression of slaves being freed from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. They use the map to create a timeline of when free and slave states became part of the United States.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Iowa | Unit 4: Civil War and Statehood." In this unit, students will survey the role of Iowans in the Civil War and the crucial era of Iowa gaining statehood.
H.SS.3.23: Compare and contrast conflicting historical perspectives about a past event or issue.
CG.SS.4.9: Explain how the enforcement of a specific ruling or law changed society. (21st century skills)
BS.SS.5.8: Analyze how rights and laws influence interactions between groups in society.
CG.SS.5.12: Describe how laws, rules, and processes have changed over time in order to restrict, protect, or extend rights. (21st century skills)
- Interactive: Slave and Free Soil: Interactive Map | A Biography of America
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to project map to the class
- Class set of Free vs. Slave States Timeline handout
- Construction paper and glue (optional)
- Tell students that, over the course of the early to mid-1800s, Northern and Southern states were increasingly at odds about allowing slavery in new states. Representatives from Northern states saw the expansion as a ploy to eventually reinstate slavery across the whole nation. Southern states saw calls for ending slavery as a threat to state power. The number of free and slave states was kept even as a compromise, but each time a new state was admitted into the US, this debate would arise again. This issue would come to a head in the Civil War of the 1860s.
- Distribute the Free vs. Slave States Timeline handout to students.
- Describe the assignment to students: They will be looking at an interactive map that shows when states surrounding Iowa became part of the Union. They should write the date in which each place achieved statehood on the handout and mark whether it was a free or slave state.
- Show students the interactive map resource, Slave and Free Soil: Interactive Map | A Biography of America. NOTE: This is a Flash-based interactive. You can view a static version here.
- Have students cut their handout into strips, and create a timeline of Iowa and its bordering states listing the order these states became part of the country. Students have the option of gluing the strips onto construction paper for clarity.
- Point out that there was a string of free states added to the country after Iowa became a state. Ask students, “What does the ratio of slave vs. free states say about the political climate leading into the Civil War?” [There were more new free states, the balance between slave states and free states was disrupted, the South felt outnumbered, etc.]
- 1818 – Illinois – free state
- 1821 – Missouri – slave state
- 1846 – Iowa – free state
- 1848 – Wisconsin – free state
- 1858 – Minnesota – free state
- 1861 – Kansas – free state