Students watch a video about the dispute over where to locate the capital of Montana. They learn the arguments on both sides of the conflict, and create a political cartoon expressing the point of view of one side or the other in the Capital Fight.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Unit 8: State Government & Constitution" which gives students the opportunity to explore some unique features of Montana’s politics and government, both in the past and today.
4.1: Identify and use various sources of information (e.g., artifacts, diaries, photographs, charts, biographies, paintings, architecture, songs) to develop an understanding of the past.
2.6: Describe factors that cause conflict and contribute to cooperation among individuals and groups (e.g., playground issues, misunderstandings, listening skills, taking turns).
Helena District 4.1: Identify and use various sources to develop an understanding of the history of Montana (including the Montana Constitution).
- Video: Montana Mosaics: Capital Fight of 1884
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Notebooks or loose-leaf paper
- Construction or printer paper
- Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
Explain to students that the dispute over where to have Montana’s capitol was riddled with corruption. The economic and political power that comes with being the capitol city fueled people’s desire to have the capitol in one area over another. In 1894, the main contenders had been reduced to two: Helena and Anaconda. William Andrews Clark and Marcus Daly led the dispute. William Andrews Clark had financial power in Montana from his mining success. Similarly, Marcus Daly, head of the Anaconda Copper Company, also had financial power. Their economic rivalry colored all Montana politics at the time.
Play the video, Montana Mosaics: Capital Fight of 1884. [6:24]
Have students take notes in their notebooks on the different sides of the Capitol Fight.
Pass out construction or printer paper and drawing supplies, and direct students to create a political cartoon representing one side in the Capitol Fight. Explain that political cartoons are illustrations that contain a political or social message. They relate to current events or people in the public eye and generally emphasize only one side of an issue: either by exaggerating the absurdity of the opposing viewpoint, or taking a particular perspective on the issue.
If time allows, have some students show their cartoons and explain their viewpoints to the class.