Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Determining the President of 1860

Thomas Lucey


The learner will determine who won the U.S. Presidential election of 1860. Students will find the information online, create a database, manipulate a spreadsheet and present findings.


The student knows the role of physical and cultural geography in shaping events in the United States (for example, environmental and climatic influences on settlement of the colonies, the American Revolution, the Civil War).

The student understands the impact of significant people, events and ideas on the development of the United States (for example, Thomas Jefferson, Manifest Destiny).


- Computer
- Printer
- Internet Browser
- Database Software
- Spreadsheet Software
- Computer paper
- Notebook paper
- Pens
- Think-sheet (see associated file)


1. Duplicate the Think-sheet in the associated file for each student.
2. Collect research materials and either bookmark the computers or provide information sheets with key websites listed.
3. Establish a resource table/area with resources on the election results and the early part of the Civil War. This area must be sufficiently distant from the computer work area to prevent disturbances.


Note: This lesson also addresses these standards:
National Council for Social Studies Standards
1. Culture and Cultural Identity
2. Time, Continuity, and Change
3. People, places, and Environments/
5. Individuals, Groups, and Institutions.
6. Power, authority and governance
10. Civic ideals and practices.

The Presidential election represented a pivotal point in the nation's growth. The results of this election would determine policies regarding the nation's culture, the economy, physical growth, and foreign policies. As circumstances were, the nation presented a diverse society with many conflicting points of view which were organized regionally. By understanding the results of this election, the student will gain insight into the nation's diverse opinions and how they drew the philosophical issue lines for the Civil War.

To accomplish this process, the students will research and collect data concerning the results of the 1860 Presidential Election. Over the course of the lesson, students will also develop database skills, create and manipulate spreadsheets, analyze and interpret data, and convey findings on a written Think-sheet.

Activities and Procedures

Before Using the Computer (20 Minutes)

1. Introduce Problem to the Group
2. Brainstorm ideas for resolving the problem
3. Students will break into six groups of four and plan their computer tasks. The computer tasks required for this exercise are.
3a. Finding data online
3b. Creating the database
3c. Formatting spreadsheet
3d. Graphing Results
3e. Printing Results
3f. Examining Results /Think Sheet

Students who are not at the computers will be at a resource center studying reference sources on the results of the election (Hint: Look at causes of the Civil War).

At the Computer (Two 30 minutes periods)

4. Two group members will be at each computer at a time.
5. The first pair will take turns finding the data online and creating the database.
6. The second pair will take turns formatting the spreadsheet, manipulating the data into the spreadsheet, graphing the results and printing.

After the Computer (20 minutes)

The students will interpret the data using the provided Think-sheet.

Rotation Activities

Twelve students (six pairs) will work at the computers for 30 minutes. While one group works at the computer, the other group will work in the resource center discovering information about the election. Students will switch roles after this time.


The following checklist should help the teacher and students to assess the steps in this lesson. Student completion of the Think-sheet in the associated file will also be an assessment for this lesson. A key is provided. Students who have difficulty answering the questions or are not able to follow the checklist should receive feedback from the teacher and be allowed additional time for formulating an opinion based on the collected data or receive aid in gathering the data.

_____Collected the Data

_____Developed the database

_____Manipulated data in the Spreadsheet

_____Analyzed and Interpreted Data

_____Conveyed Findings on Think-sheet


Culminating Activity

The students can develop a time line demonstrating knowledge of political, military, and social events associated with the Civil War.

Web Links

Web supplement for Determining the President of 1860

Web supplement for Determining the President of 1860

This is a site containing a table of voting records.
Presidential Voting, 1844-1860

Attached Files

A Think-sheet and an answer key.     File Extension: pdf

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