This lesson is designed to analyze and discuss the country's reaction to the Lincoln Assassination through primary source documents. Or, to promote students’ use of primary source documents at anytime during the academic year. The activities are designed to be flexible enough to conform to any instructor’s time frame and student abilities from elective courses, standard American History, or Advanced Placement classes.

In this 2-3 part lesson students will be challenged to analyze, think critically, work within a small group environment, and express themselves through creative outlets. Students will interpret a small sample of primary source documents that reflect reaction from all over the country, and each student will be required to demonstrate the knowledge gained from this lesson in written form.

Guiding Questions

  • How did the assassination of Abraham Lincoln impact the country?
  • How did people in the North and South react differently to the assassination?


  • The students will analyze and process primary source documents.
  • The students will use critical thinking skills in the analysis.
  • The students will use their writing skills to develop a well conceived written assignment.
  • The students will have the opportunity to create a document that demonstrates their gained knowledge of the lesson.
  • The students will be able to gain a better understanding of the impact the Lincoln Assassination had on its country.
  • The students will be able to better understand how the people in the North and South reacted to the assassination.



Lesson Activity One: Introduction to the Lincoln Assassination
- Using both video and text, students are introduced to the assassination.
Lesson Activity Two: Small Group Analysis
- Working in small groups, students analyze eight primary sources related to the Lincoln Assassination.
Lesson Activity Three: Connection to Other National Tragedies
- Instructor leads a discussion on how Americans have reacted to different national tragedies.
Lesson Activity Four: Abraham Lincoln vs. the Joker
- Students analyze a cartoon clip related to the Lincoln Assassination.
Lesson Activity Five: Short Answer Writing Assignment
- Students describe the reaction of Americans to the assassination in 100 words.
Lesson Activity Six: DBQ Written Response
- Using eight documents from Remembering Lincoln, students answer a DBQ. Read More »


External Resources

  • Grade Level

    9 to 12

  • Timeframe

    2 to 3 classes (45 min/period)

  • Class Subject


  • Skills

    Primary source analysis, Forming conclusions

  • Teacher Information

    James LeGrand

    Altus High School, Altus, Oklahoma

    9th-12th Grade

    AP US History, America in the 1960s, Civil War & Reconstruction

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Newspaper from Apr. 21, 1865

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Letter from Apr. 15, 1865

Excerpts from the diary of Mary Jane Chadick, published in

Mary Jane Chadick Diary

Diary from Apr. 16, 1865

"Meeting of Colored Citizens"

Newspaper from Apr. 17, 1865

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"Traitors at Home"

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$100,000 Reward

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Newspaper from Oct. 11, 1865