Abraham Lincoln and Executive Power Print E-mail
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution
Supplemental Lesson

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About This Supplemental Lesson

In honor of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the Center for Civic Education, with support from the Motorola Foundation, has produced this lesson for high school students titled "What Was Abraham Lincoln's Legacy to American Constitutionalism and Citizenship?" The lesson, written by John J. Patrick, Professor Emeritus of Education at Indiana University, supplements the We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution text. It is designed to be taught after students have completed Lessons 1–7 (Unit One) and 17 (Unit Three) of the We the People text, but is appropriate for high school students not familiar the We the People curriculum.
The competitive hearings of the 2009 We the People National Finals will include a question on Abraham Lincoln and his legacy. Furthermore, starting with the 2009-10 school year, students from every state will study this lesson to prepare for each state’s We the People finals. Students will need to answer a question related to material discussed in the lesson during each state’s finals.

Purpose of the Lesson
The lesson traces the rise of Lincoln from his humble beginnings to the presidency. It also examines Lincoln’s ideas and decisions regarding slavery and the use of presidential power to preserve the Federal Union during the Civil War.

When students have completed this lesson, they should be able to
  • explain how Abraham Lincoln overcame daunting disadvantages to become a great president,
  • analyze and evaluate President Lincoln’s decisions in response to critical constitutional issues of the Civil War, and
  • understand and appreciate Lincoln’s enduring legacy to American constitutionalism and citizenship.

The author of this supplemental lesson on Abraham Lincoln is John J. Patrick, Professor Emeritus of Education at Indiana University.


This supplemental lesson commemorating the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth was made possible by a Motorola Lincoln Grant from the Motorola Foundation.  


© 2013, Center for Civic Education. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely reproduce and use the pdf version of this lesson for nonprofit, educational purposes. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies. Images used in this lesson and on this website are subject to copyright restrictions and must not be reproduced without prior written permission from the  copyright holder. Please visit the Center for Civic Education’s website at www.civiced.org.