Lincoln’s Expansion of Political Power and its Constitutionality

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Presidency of Abraham Lincoln


Lincoln's Expansion of Powers and its Constitutionality

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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.


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Template and Class Instructions

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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.
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