Attack on Fort Sumter

Historical content: 
Civil War and Reconstruction
Historical skills: 
Background knowledge, Contextualization, Corroboration
Common Core: 
#1 (Gr. 6-12)



Use the background information, your knowledge of history, and the document to answer the questions that follow. 

Background Information: On April 12-13, 1861, Confederate forces in South Carolina bombarded Fort Sumter, a federal fort at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Federal troops surrendered the fort after 34 hours. The battle marked the start of fighting in the Civil War.


Title: "Bombardment of Fort Sumter by the batteries of the Confederate states."
Publisher: Harper's Weekly
Date: April 27, 1861

Question 1: How is the election of Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President in 1860 connected to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12-13, 1861?

Question 2: How is the growing demand for cotton by textile mills in England during the first part of the nineteenth century connected to the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12-13, 1861?

About the Assessment

Like Connections to the Philippine-American War, this assessment gauges students' knowledge of the past.  Rather than measure whether students can simply recall decontextualized facts, this assessment requires students to make connections across time and construct an argument about how events are connected. Students with a strong sense of the past will be able to explain that Lincoln's election contributed to the formation of the Confederacy because of his opposition to slavery in the territories.  Strong students will also explain that the rising price of cotton on the international market due to textile mills in England made slavery even more indispensable to the South. Both of these connections point ultimately to the start of the Civil War.