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One Man's Deliberation, One State's Salvation

Author: Yvonne Martin

Big Ideas: Role of state and federal politics in the statehood of West Virginia; President Lincoln's role in establishing West Virginia as a state.

Essential Questions: Who were the state leaders during the 1860s and what were their viewpoints on statehood? What issues did Lincoln consider in granting West Virginia's statehood?

5th Grade Standards and Lesson Plans

West Virginia Social Studies Standards

SS.5.WV.1 reconstruct the economic, social and political history of West Virginia through the use of primary source documents.

SS.5.WV.4 sequence the events that led to the formation of the state of West Virginia.

SS.5.WV.5 identify and explain the significance of historical experiences and of geographical, social and economic factors that have helped shape both West Virginia's and America's society.

SS.5.WV.6 analyze the moral, ethical, and legal tensions that led to the creation of the new state of West Virginia and how those tensions were resolved.

Social Studies Standards

SS.5.E.6 compare the industrial North and the agricultural South prior to the Civil War, the geographic characteristics and boundaries of each region and the basic way of life in each region.

SS.5.G.1 explain how aspects of the terrain (e.g., the principle mountain ranges, rivers, vegetation and climate of the region, etc.) affected westward travel and expansion.

SS.5.H.CL.1 research the roles and accomplishments of the leaders of the reform movements before and during the Civil War (e.g., abolition movement, Underground Railroad and other social reforms, etc.).

English/Language Arts Standards

ELA.5.R.C1.4 quote accurately from an informational text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

ELA.5.R.C1.5 determine two or more main ideas of an informational text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.

ELA.5.R.C1.6 using an informational text, explain the relationship or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

ELA.5.R.C3.1 analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone or beauty of a literary text (e.g. graphic novel, multimedia presentation in fiction, folktale, myth, poem).

ELA.5.R.C3.3 draw on information from multiple print or digital informational sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

ELA.5.W.C11.1 conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of topic.

ELA.5.SL.C13.2 summarize a written text, read aloud, or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Learning Plan

Students must understand sectionalism between the eastern and western parts of Virginia. In particular, sectionalism as it related to land use, sectionalism in trade/transportation, and sectionalism concerning the definition of democracy. Students will need experience with persuasive writing techniques as that style of writing is used in the post-test of day seven. This style could be part of the RLA during the unit if it has not already been taught.

This plan is developed to allow cross-curricular coverage of a topic. Once an idea or question is introduced in Social Studies, it is further investigated during RLA classes. A creative arts lesson is included as well. Differentiation is accommodated using partner and small group work with teacher monitoring. The lessons are designed to be accomplished within a 30 - 40-minute time block unless otherwise noted.


The students "travel" to the West Virginia State Museum's Discovery Room 17 where the statue "Lincoln Walks at Midnight" will the focus point for discussion. Give only date the statue is depicting (1863). Direct the students to study Lincoln's face and attire. What is the general mood that the artist Torrey has created? What historical events could be the cause? After class discussion of these questions, share with the students the information concerning Torrey's artwork. Let the students know that their next section of West Virginia study will focus on Lincoln's role in West Virginia's statehood and that they will be sculpting a project of their own. Administer the Venn diagram pre-test. Keep this completed activity to compare for assessment to the Venn diagram post-test.


The students "travel" to the West Virginia State Museum's Discovery Room 7 where they will focus on the timeline of the statehood movement dating from the adoption of the Virginia state constitution in 1776 to West Virginia entering the Union in 1863. Teacher will pair students for success by considering high/low reading abilities. Partners will collaborate in creating a Summary Log by reading the events together and jointly deciding on major historical ideas for each decade. One partner is the scribe, while the other oversees looking up any unfamiliar vocabulary. Vocabulary will be noted in the back of the Summary Log.


Begin the class by discussing the summaries of the timeline from the Logs. Share the information concerning the "Wheeling Intelligencer" newspaper office from the resource section of this lesson. Have the students "travel" to Discovery Room 7. This room represents West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling. Students focus on the portraits that lit up during the virtual tour as some of the state's leading advocates for statehood. Assign teams of students the individual advocate to research. Be sure to include Archibald Campbell, Waitman T. Willey, Peter G. Van Winkle, Arthur I. Boreman, and Francis H. Pierpont.

Research questions to consider:


During RLA class give students time to research their assigned advocate using specific question from Day 3. (Mini-teach on how quotations are grammatically written is appropriate with this lesson). Excellent time to involve the school librarian/technologist to help students research other sites such as West Virginia State Archives.

During social studies class, students view and take notes from You Are There: West Virginia Statehood (West Virginia Public Broadcasting DVD). Teacher leads the discussion about Abraham Lincoln's deliberation concerning statehood. Additional information may be obtained in West Virginia: A History for Beginners in the West Virginia State Archives.


During RLA class students combine notes from all sources on the statehood advocate and "fine tune" research into a persuasive essay about the pros/cons of statehood. Students select someone to act as that advocate and do a dramatic reading of this essay during the class. This may take two class periods.

During social studies access onto a SMART Board President Lincoln's Statehood Proclamation of April 20th, 1863. Conduct a "cloze reading" activity with the class: discuss vocabulary, phrasing, meaning within historical time period. Have the students highlight, rephrase, etc. on the board as the discussion develops. The teacher closes by leading a review of Lincoln's perspective in depth.

If you are conducting the debate on Day six, select students who want to represent the Virginia's Loyalists' point of view to counter the advocates for statehood.


During RLA, let the students playing the roles of statehood advocates and Virginia Loyalists practice his/her presentation with partners. Have the presenters work on vocal quality, gesturing, and "making the point".

During social studies, conduct a debate, giving time for both sides to present. After the debate, conduct a mock election for the citizens (students) to vote for or against statehood. After results are announces, have the students discuss why the results turned out as they did.


Administer the Venn diagram post-test. Students must supply two additional details in each section of the Venn when compared to his/her pre-test Venn for a satisfactory performance. In addition, allow the students time to defend his/her position on West Virginia statehood using persuasive writing. He/She must justify his/her position with three details learned during this unit.

Notes to the Instructor

Excellent background information on sectionalism can be obtained from West Virginia: A History for Beginners by John Alexander Williams, pages 81 - 90 and West Virginia: The Road to Statehood (produced and distributed by West Virginia Public Broadcasting). Before starting this unit, you may want to have an enlarged copy of Lincoln Walks at Midnight displayed in the room. The Summary Log is 6-8 pieces of notebook paper stapled together with a construction paper cover. Optional: Students decorate the cover. On Day One, the students need to view the Torrey statue. If a SMART Board is not available for Day Five, students could go to the West Virginia State Archives during computer/mobile lab. A third option would be for the teacher to download the primary source, then copy it for student distribution.

The best of all circumstances would be to contact the West Virginia State Museum and schedule an onsite visit with your class. If you visit, don't forget a tour through the Governor's Mansion as well as the Capitol. Of course, your students will want to find the nine and a half foot version of Torrey's statue on the river side of the Capitol!

Alternative to the seven-day unit plan: Complete Day One - Day Five social studies activities only, omitting the advocate research activities and the debate activities prep. The unit assessment is still valid with this shortened plan.

Materials and Other Resources

Writing utensils

Notebook paper and construction paper/stapler for Summary Log

Venn Diagram labeled with Pro-Statehood on one circle, Con Statehood on a second Circle, and Lincoln's Deliberation on shared, lap-over space, one copy of Pretest and one copy for Posttest per student


Materials for students to illustrate the Summary Log cover if they choose to do so

SMART Board or access to computer

Vachel Lindsay's poem "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight"

West Virginia PBS Road to Statehood and You are There videos

Wheeling Intelligencer Newspaper Office

By the time of the Civil War, many people in the western part of Virginia believed that they had been ignored by the state government for far too long. Virginia's secession from the Union offered the western region a chance to break away and form a new state. A key leader of the statehood movement was Archibald Campbell, editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer.

Campbell and other statehood leaders pushed first to form a Virginia government loyal to the Union, then to create the state of West Virginia. Campbell lobbied Congress and President Lincoln to admit West Virginia. Northern control of the region held down opposition and endured West Virginia Statehood.

On June 20, 1863, West Virginia entered the Union as the 35th state.

Source: West Virginia State Museum Teachers Planner, "Civil War and Statehood"

Museum Hours of Operation

Operating Hours:

Tuesday through Saturday

9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

***Closed Sundays and Mondays***

Closed all National Holidays except Memorial Day weekend

Admission is free

For more information call: (304) 558-0220