My students are still actively interacting with the wonderful historical film, “Lincoln,” in our American Government through Padlet walls, and its going remarkably well!
Each day, I’ve asked my students to record their thoughts on a specific features of the movie or characters and locate reliable Internet resources to compare the movie depictions to the actual people/events. This has kept my students engaged in the lesson, and has prevented the sleeping and boredom that is sometimes the result of watching historical films…with their very nerdy teacher 🙂
A specific part of “Lincoln” always makes my students laugh…if you’ve seen it, you’ll likely see the scene I’ll describe play out in your head, and you just might chuckle as well!
The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on the passage of the 13th Amendment. Representative Pendleton rises to deliver his closing remarks and provides evidence that a peace offering from Confederate commissioners has been offered, and is being held hostage in order to pass the 13th Amendment. The Radical Republican faction of the House is clearly upset, which encourages the lobbyists hired by Secretary of State Seward (who “bribe” Lame Duck Democrats with patronage jobs) to rush a note to President Lincoln at the White House. In true Hollywood fashion, William Bilbo (one of Seward’s lobbyist), accompanied by Lincoln’s secretaries, sprints from the Capitol building to the White House to receive Lincoln’s letter, denying the claim. My students love watching the characters sprint, fall down, and arrive breathlessly at the White House to receive Lincoln’s statement!
While the movie portrays this scene well, in a manner that hooks viewers…its not entirely accurate. Yes, Representative Ashley did request confirmation from President Lincoln that there were no Confederate commissioners in Washington DC. Yes, President Lincoln did respond to that request via statement that was delivered to Representative Ashley…these events occurred on the same day, but events did not unfold entirely as they did in the film.
To provide my students with this information, I used the annotation and sharing features of the Diigo extension for Google Chrome. Do you use Diigo in your classes? Have you tried it? I’m not really sure why, but I have strayed away from Diigo…no longer!
By using the annotation and sharing features of Diigo, I was able to locate a website which included the actual correspondence between Lincoln and John Ashley. I shared the document with my students on the Padlet wall on which they were interacting, just as the scene unfolded on my whiteboard. It was great! The students were exposed to a primary source, background information about the source, and were then able to compare and contrast the actual events to what was portrayed in the movie. Success!!
If you’re interested in viewing my Diigo source I used for this activity, please click here.
Thanks for reading my “geek-out” about primary sources and historical films!
Check back soon for my review of Diigo and its uses in my classroom.