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SIM Materials

SIM Curriculum - Reconstruction

Discover curriculum materials for the Reconstruction Senate Immersion Module experience at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

The United States was torn apart by the Civil War, and in the years that followed, the nation struggled to put itself back together. Five years following the war’s end, Congress debated the Enforcement Acts - legislation meant to define the roles of the state and federal governments in the enforcement of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

In the Reconstruction SIM, students will take on roles from the 41st Congress and grapple with a variety of issues facing the postbellum Senate, including

(1) Is the protection of voting rights the responsibility of the states or the federal government?

(2) For how long, and to what extent, should federal programs like the Freedmen’s Bureau continue?

(3) Can the federal government intervene in trials of terror organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, and in what capacity?

(4) In light of the enfranchisement of recently freed slaves, should the United States government grant amnesty to former confederates and grant them the right to vote and to hold elected office? The answers to these and other questions would cause a realignment in the 19th century political landscape, ultimately set the stage for American political life in the modern era.

Created in 2015 by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, Facing History & Ourselves, and Gigantic Mechanic.

Reviewed by the University of Richmond and St. Olaf College

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