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TDIH: The Civil War Ends (April 9, 1865)

150 years ago, with the country in its fourth year of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln had been re-elected to a second term. On March 4, 1865, he gave his second inaugural address, and spoke about the war:

“Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came….Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865

Lee Surrenders to Grant

Gen. Lee Surrenders to Gen. Grant at Appomattox
by Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Just over a month later, on April 9, 1865, the American Civil War effectively ended when Confederate Army Commander General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at a private home in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The terrible war that saw the Nation suffer over a million casualties and the deaths of than 620,000 American soldiers–from combat, accident, starvation, and disease–was finally coming to an end. The next day General Lee wrote in a farewell address to his men, known as General Order No 9:

“After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.”

Using primary sources to engage students in learning and building critical thinking and constructing knowledge is emphasized in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). For example, the CCSS require secondary students toAnalyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.

Educators, you can help your students explore the Civil War and other topics in U.S. history through primary source documents with SIRS Government Reporter’s Historic Documents feature. Over 325 documents are available–including speeches, legislation, treaties, and others of historical value. Search for documents by title or subject, or browse through an alphabetical list. Each contains the full text of the document, as well as a brief summary explaining its background and significance. Some historic documents that are available on SIRS Government Reporter and related to the Civil War include:

  • Lincoln’s “House Divided” Speech (1858)
  • Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address (1861)
  • Constitution of the Confederate States of America (1861)
  • Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
  • The Gettysburg Address (1863)
  • Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (1865)
  • Andrew Johnson’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon for the Confederate States (1865)

Start using the primary source historic documents available on SIRS Government Reporter in your Common Core-based lesson plans and classroom activities today!

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