The Brownsville Affair through the Lens of Lincoln

By Callie Hawkins
Lesson plans contributed by Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue, a teacher at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio, was looking for a way to provide context and relevance for his students’ study of United States history that would extend his classroom discussions to include people and events occurring beyond the parameters of his state’s high school social studies curriculum, which covers U.S. history from 1877 through the 1900s. In doing so, The Brownsville Affair, a 1906 incident in Brownsville, Texas which rose out of tensions between Brownsville’s white residents and black members of the 25th U.S. Regiment stationed at nearby Fort Brown, was studied through the lens of President Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated more than forty years before this event ever occurred.

Mr. LaRue asked his students to compare quotes from President Lincoln, South Carolina Senator Benjamin Tillman, and Ohio Governor and Senator Joseph Foraker, to reveal how the events of the Brownsville Affair threatened to undo President Lincoln’s work all those years before. Students were asked to consider how this event might have been handled differently if Abraham Lincoln had still been living, and Mr. LaRue encouraged his students to draw on current events by asking which would have surprised Lincoln more: the Brownsville Affair and its outcome, or Barack Obama’s 2008 election as President of the United States?

This lesson allowed students to analyze primary source documents from different periods in history and incorporated film as a way to examine racial tension in United States history. As a culminating project, Mr. LaRue asked students to blog about their experience and their opinions.

Resources for Mr. LaRue’s lesson plan are below:

What Would Abe Do #1

National Standards for History #2

Brownsville Affair #3

Joseph B. Foraker Quotes #4

Benjamin R. Tilman Quotes #5

Explanation of Assessment #6

If you would like to join Paul LaRue, and other teachers across the country who have submitted lesson plans on the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln to President Lincoln’s Cottage, please contact Education Coordinator, Callie Hawkins, at Lessons will be reviewed and posted to our blog. Please be sure to include your name, grade, school, city, and state.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these associated materials do not necessarily represent those of President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Ms. Hawkins is the Education Coordinator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Mr. LaRue is a History Teacher at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio.
Share this: