Activity Overview

In order to help students better understand the language and arguments made in the Emancipation Proclamation, they should analyze select quotes or excerpts from the document. In this activity, students will use a spider map to detail and explain four or more excerpts directly from the Emancipation Proclamation. Students will explain and analyze each excerpt from the document and create a visual interpretation. This ensures students read the document verbatim and put the document's words into their own language. It's a great way for you to see how well students are comprehending historical documents.

Students may also choose to use different layouts for their excerpt analysis - the grid or chart layouts are also well suited to this assignment!

Extended Activity

Have students complete the same task for Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech. Ask students to make connections including comparisons of both similarities and differences. Students can connect and analyze excerpts from both documents on a T-Chart storyboard, allowing them to compare and analyze excerpts from two primary sources.

Excerpt Analysis: The Emancipation Proclamation Text


"...all persons held as slaves within any State ...the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."


This quotes the section of the document proclaiming that all slaves that exist in rebellious parts of the nation shall, from this day forward, be considered free peoples.

"...and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three."

This quote signifies that Lincoln is also issuing the Emancipation Proclamation as a war measure, and therefore, we can consider it a war tactic.

"...and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places..."

This quote means that all freed persons who are able will be accepted into the Union military. They will man and operate any and every aspect of military duty.

"...and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons."

This quote means that the Union military will maintain and carry out the orders within the Emancipation Proclamation. Namely, the honoring the freeing of slaves in rebellious areas.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard interpreting and visualizing excerpts from the Emancipation Proclamation.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, type in the direct quote.
  3. In the description, type your interpretation of the quote.
  4. Create an illustration for each cell using appropriate scenes, items, and characters.

Lesson Plan Reference

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/RI/9-10/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • [ELA-Literacy/RI/9-10/9] Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (e.g., Washington's Farewell Address, the Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech, King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail"), including how they address related themes and concepts.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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