Educator Resources

Lincoln's Spot Resolutions

Teaching Activities

Standards Correlations

This lesson correlates to the National History Standards.
  • Era 4-Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
    • Standard 1C-Demonstrate understanding of the ideology of Manifest Destiny, the nation's expansion to the Northwest, and the Mexican-American War.

This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government.

  • Standard IV.A.1.-Explain how nation-states interact with each other.
  • Standard IV.B.2.-Evaluate, take, and defend positions about how United States foreign policy is made and the means by which it is carried out.

Cross-curricular Connections

Share this exercise with your history, government, and language arts colleagues.

Interpreting the Document

  1. Students should review information in their textbooks about the U.S. entry into the Mexican War and opposition to that war. Supplement the text with information from the note to the teacher.
  2. Ask students to locate on a map or in an atlas the following geographical features: the Nueces River, the Rio Grande, Corpus Christi, Point Isabel, Matamoros.
  3. Ask students to read the document, either aloud as a class or silently. Then ask them to summarize each of the eight resolutions in their own words:
    1. Using the text and note to the teacher, ask students to answer each of Lincoln's points.
    2. Using Polk's war message, ask students to answer each of the points.
    3. Ask students to compile a list of secondary sources where they might find information to resolve the discrepancies between the two versions of the events.
    4. Ask students to compile a list of primary sources that they could examine to resolve the discrepancies between the two versions.

Public Opinion

  1. Most students are aware that television influences public opinion from politics to fashion, but they are less sensitive to the impact of other forms of communication. As a class, discuss the following questions:
    1. Apart from television, how do they get information about current events?
    2. Apart from television, what sources do they turn to for information upon which to base an opinion? (For example, consumer, book, movie, record, or fashion reviews and editorials)
    3. Can they tell what side of an issue their local newspaper favors? Opposes? How?
    4. Apart from articles on the editorial page, what other decisions made by newspaper editors influence public opinion and knowledge?
    5. What impact would political party newspapers have had in the 1840s, an era before television or radio?
  2. Antiwar protesters did not just appear with the Vietnam War, as some students believe. Time permitting, you may wish to assign students to read Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience" or the play based on his incarceration, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, or James R. Lomell's Biglow Papers, or other examples of opposition to the Mexican War. Students should report to the class the issues raised and tactics used by these earlier protesters.
  3. Direct students to look into earlier and later antiwar material, from Aristophanes' Lysistrata to Holly Near's songs about the conflict in Central America. Ask students to conduct research and prepare written or oral reports or to write an editorial on one of the following topics:
    1. Protesters of conscience against wars other than the Mexican War.
    2. Moral issues raised by conscientious objectors at different periods in history.
    3. Tactics used by antiwar protesters over time and how these tactics have changed.

The photographs included in this project are available through the National Archives Catalog and are in Record Group 111, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.

The National Archives Catalog replaces its prototypes, the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) and NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL). You can still perform a keyword, digitized image and location search. The online catalog's advanced functionalities also allow you to search by organization, person, or topic.

The online catalog is a searchable database that contains information about a wide variety of NARA holdings across the country. You can use the National Archives Catalog to search record descriptions by keywords or topics and retrieve digital copies of selected textual documents, photographs, maps, and sound recordings related to thousands of topics.

Currently, about 80% of NARA's vast holdings have been described in the National Archives Catalog. Thousands of digital images can be searched in the National Archives Catalog. In keeping with NARA's Strategic Plan, the percentage of holdings described in the National Archives Catalog will grow continually.

Mueller, Jean West and Wynell B. Schamel. "Lincoln's Spot Resolutions." Social Education 52, 6 (October 1988): 455 - 457, 466.

Return to Lesson Main Page