The 1864 Presidential Election

A Hands on Experience in Civic Engagement

In the midst of the American Civil War, the country had some decisions to make: Who would govern the nation for the next four years, and when would the war end? The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWGK) developed an in-class voting lesson for the 1864 election. With the 2020 election right around the corner, it is never too early for students to think about civic engagement. In this experience, students will be assigned a 19th Century person from Civil War Kentucky. Students are asked take the historical persona, examine their life, and make a decision regarding voting. Students must consider what it meant to be a White male or female, or a free African American male or female at the time of the election. This lesson is filled with activities for students to explore and provide them with insight on the importance of civic duty.

It is ideal for groups who want to participate in a historical election, discuss the change over time regarding voting, and think critically about being involved in the political process.

The packet includes:

  • 30 unique profiles of 19th Century Kentuckians
  • 30 individual primary sources to accompany profiles
  • Specific context surrounding the election for classroom discussion
  • Rubric for voting
  • A prompt for an individual writing assignment
  • Follow up worksheet on political activism

Click here to download the classroom packet