Activity Overview

When the Constitution was created, its goal was to outline the limits of the government's power across all three branches. When Lincoln became president, many of the actions he took to expand the power of the presidency could be argued to be either unconstitutional or perfectly constitutional.

Using a grid storyboard, have students define a specific constitutional rule, demonstrate how Lincoln expanded on that law, and provide rationale for its (un)constitutionality. Students will examine and define constitutional law, relate it to Lincoln’s actions as president, and finally determine whether or not his actions were constitutional or unconstitutional. The first column should be dedicated to the actual words or rule of the Constitution, the second to Lincoln’s actions regarding that law, and the third to the student’s rationale.

Extended Activity

Have students create a similar grid on another president’s expansion of powers in a time of crisis, the constitutionality of that power, and their rationale on it. An example is George W. Bush, and his expansion of powers during the War on Terror in post-9/11 America. Teachers may select any president during any time, and use it as a comparison to Lincoln.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard analyzing how Lincoln expanded the power of the presidency and whether or not his actions were constitutional.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the first column, enter the actual words or rule of the Constitution.
  3. In the second column, describe Lincoln's actions regarding the law.
  4. In the third column, argue whether or not the action was constitutional.
  5. Create an illustration for each cell using appropriate items, scenes, and characters.
  6. Save and submit your storyboard.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual or Partner

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/1] Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/2] Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RH/9-10/8] Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author's claims.

More Storyboard That Activities

Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

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