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Lesson Plans

Title: This Guilty Land

Grades: 6-8
Download the Complete Lesson Plan (.pdf, 818KB)

Social Studies:

  • KH8B3I4: Describe the role of important
    individuals during the territorial period (e.g.,
    John Brown).
  • KH8B8I3Æ8: Examines and analyzes historical
    documents and artifacts.

National Standards:

US History 5-12, S1A: Explain the causes of the
Civil War and evaluate the importance of slavery as
a principle cause of the conflict.




  • John Brown came to Kansas to support the
    abolitionist cause.
  • John Brown was tried and hanged for treason
    after leading a raid on Harpers Ferry.


  • Analyzing issues
  • Organizing information
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Primary sources
Focus Questions Assessment Tools
  • Was John Brown a terrorist or a martyr?
  • Was John Brown typical of the abolitionists
    working to make Kansas a state free of slavery?
  • Do the ends justify the means?
  • character chart
  • class discussion
  • epitaph
  1. Provide context for the lesson by placing John Brown within the period of Kansas Territory and the years
    just before the start of the Civil War. Share with the class that John Brown was a complex man. Some
    consider him a martyr and others a terrorist.
  2. 2. Pass out the “Getting to Know John Brown” cards. Using the cards, have students organize into two
    groups— “What did John Brown say?” and “What did others say about John Brown?”
  3. 3. Complete the “Who is John Brown?” worksheet using the information on the cards. Discuss what students
    included on their worksheets.
  4. 4. Using the cards, class discussion, and worksheet, have students write an epitaph for John Brown.

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