ERA 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)

Why The Civil War Still Matters, by James McPherson

Guiding Questions

Why does the Civil War matter today?

Was the Civil War worth its costs?

Was the Civil War necessary?

Lee surrenders

Lee surrenders


The collection could be useful as an overview of some of the key issues and key figures from the Civil War. It could be used as a springboard for a research project based on the issues reviewed in the article (financial cost of war, slavery/Civil Rights/equality, war casualties, etc.). 

In order to answer the compelling questions, students can take several approaches, including how the Civil War events affected the Civil Rights movement, how war strategies affected subsequent wars, and/or how the stances on issues of later presidents compare with Abraham Lincoln’s. As this collection and article give a broad overview, students should be aware of the economic and social differences between the North and the South prior to 1861 as well as the debate over federal versus states’ rights. Additionally, students should be well versed in the debate between slavery proponents and abolitionists.

Teacher Guide