Education:A Newspaper in time - an Abolitionist Account



9-11th grade

Time Required for Completed Lesson

Three block periods







6.b 8.1.12.A.2

Common Core State Standards

WHST.9-10.1a Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

WHST.9-10.1b Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

WHST.9-10.1d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

WHST.9-10.1e Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.

WHST.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

WHST.9-10.2a Introduce a topic and organize ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

WHST.9-10.2b Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.

WHST.9-10.2c Use varied transitions and sentence structures to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

WHST.9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic and convey a style appropriate to the discipline and context as well as to the expertise of likely readers.

WHST.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

WHST.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

WHST.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

WHST.11-12.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.


MS Publisher, texts on abolitionists, copies of abolitionist newspapers, directions (see below), current newspapers

Anticipatory Set

1. Discuss with students the way communication spread in the United States in the 1800s

2. Teach students the functions of MS publisher


1. Have students read a current newspaper and discuss the layout of the paper

2. Discuss with students the abolitionist movement pre Civil War

     a. Why were they important for the end of slavery

3. Have students read about Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and other abolitionists

4. Discuss how communication is done in the modern world (cell phones, email, etc.)

5. Ask students how communication was spread in the 1800s without the internet a. Discuss difficulties b. How those issues were overcame

6. Students then will create a newspaper on MS Publisher through the lens of an abolitionist

     a. Students can imagine they are writing from NJ to readers in the South

           i. Students must select a location in the South

          ii. Research how that town in the south feels about Slavery

     b. Students must put era-appropriate images on the Newspaper

     c. Students are writing about why slavery is evil, immoral and anti-American

          i. This should be at least 4-5 paragraphs convincing them to relinquish slavery

     d. Students then do a peer edit on each other’s papers

     e. Students then print out their newspapers for a presentation and to display


Tap into the students prior knowledge pertaining to, slavery, the Civil War and Newspapers.

For students who are kinesthetic and visual, they will be able to hold a newspaper and observe the layout of a newspaper.

For ESL students, provide a Spanish newspaper so they can relate to the concept of creating a paper and have them work with a partner on creating the newspaper project

The teacher can model for the students what a finished product looks like to help clarify concerns or questions.

If students are having difficulty with the assignment, students can have extended time.


1. Class discussion

2. Peer edit

3. Presentation


Students will use geography and technology to accomplish the lesson. Literacy is used throughout the activity through reading, writing and editing.


1. Possible questions to ask the students are:

     a. Use of MS Publisher

     b. How did you figure out what to write

     c. Who were you writing to and what did you expect as a response

2. As an extension, direct students to have their parents buy them a newspaper and read a section of interest and then use the internet to find that story

     a. Ask them which one was the most efficient communication piece and why

3. Discuss with students how communication changes over time

     a. Students can do extra research on its evolution

4. According to IEEE’s Dr. Hochheiser, one can see the evolution of printed communication and its impact on the US Civil War.

     a. With the advent of the printing press in 1453, more news/technology become part of the more complex system of communication

     b. Newspapers led to informed citizenry, thus leading to the spread of abolitionist rhetoric, which became the leading catalyst of the US Civil War.


Background Information

Free Northern blacks and their enslaved Southern brethren participated in personal as well as organized acts of resistance against slavery. In the North, African Americans faced huge odds and the systematic violation of their civil liberties. Consequently, many fervently supported the abolitionist cause with both open and surreptitious acts of rebellion. Northern blacks began forming groups to support the cause for freedom. As early as 1817, black Philadelphians formally protested African colonization, and by the late 1820s, black participation in anti-slavery societies had proliferated throughout the northeastern United States.

Abolitionists newspapers, such as William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator, funded abolitionist activities, thanks to the consistent and generous financial support of black activists, who made up the majority of the paper’s subscribers in its early, critical years. Former slaves and descendants of slaves also published their own newspapers to deliver powerful testimonies against slavery, at the risk of being enslaved themselves.

Fierce words and vivid images were among the tools that radical “immediatist” abolitionists used to further their cause. Instead of gently pleading their case, they employed sensational language to shock people into action against slavery. On posters for abolitionist rallies and meetings, the fervor of the language is matched only by its physical, typographical boldness and size. This poster's appeal to the “Citizens of Boston” and “Sons of Otis, and Hancock” to “see that Massachusetts Laws are not outraged with your consent,” conjures up the signers and the principles of the Declaration of Independence to stir the reader to act in favor of the cause.,

Submitted by: David Lugo, Social Studies Teacher, Mercer County Technical School