Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, born nine years apart


Reading Mid-term Exam Project – Mrs. Mincey

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Compare and Contrast

Lesson Plan

Use historical texts and biographies to introduce your students to two of the most influential men of the 19th century


Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, born nine years apart

—the former on a humble farm, the latter as a slave —were two of the most influential figures of their time.

After he escaped from slavery, Douglass became a celebrated writer, speaker, and leader of the abolitionist movement. Lincoln —who was elected president in 1860, issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and led the country through the Civil War

—referred to Douglass as the most meritorious man of the nineteenth century.

In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of each man’s pivotal role in American history.

Introduce the class to Lincoln and Douglass by reading aloud from historical texts and biographies in Language Arts or Social Studies instructional time.

This lesson plan is suitabl e for Presidents’ Day, Black History Month, or during a study of abolition or the Civil War.


Students will research the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass by reading historical texts and biographies. Students will identify and then record key concepts about each man.

Students will develop an understanding of Lincoln and Douglass by comparing and contrasting both their life experiences and their major accomplishments.


A class set of the Lincoln and Douglass: Compare and Contrast Chart (PDF). The chart will also need to be displayed for group work using an interactive whiteboard, projector, or chart paper.

A collection of historical texts and biographies of Lincoln and Douglass. Suggested titles:

The Civil War by Aaron Rosenberg

Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson

Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln by Judith St. George

Abe Lincoln by Sterling North

Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington by C. Harness

Abraham Lincoln Book List

Frederick Douglass Book List


Step 1 Read from your selected texts, identifying key concepts. Either post or project photographs of Lincoln and

Douglass on poster board and power point. Work in partnerships to read about each historical figure.

Step 2 Pickup photocopies of the Lincoln and Douglass: Compare and Contrast Chart (PDF). Have students work in partnerships or groups to locate and record the necessary information.

Step 3 After the students fill in the chart, Teacher will gather the class for group work at the interactive whiteboard or chart paper. Review all the elements, assessing the students’ understanding and Civil War had on America?

Step 4: Research Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln perspective on one of the Civil Wars, and translate their views into a Diary Entry. (What did they like or dislike about the War? What impact the War? Include 1 diary entry from Douglass and one from Abraham Lincoln.

Step 5: Each group member needs to write an entry reflecting on the facts they learned in this lesson. What surprised them? What impressed them?