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The Forks of the Road Slave Market at Natchez lesson plan

OVERVIEW

Prior to the outbreak of civil war in the United States, slave trading was a very profitable business throughout the South. Economic, political, and social conditions contributed to the growth of the slave-trading business. One of the busiest and most profitable slave markets after the War of 1812 was the Forks of the Road slave market located in Natchez, Mississippi.

CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3 and 4.

TEACHING LEVELS

Grades 4 through 12.

MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

Mississippi History Now article

Chalk and chalkboard

Overhead, transparency, and pen

Notebook paper, pencil, or pen

Unlined paper

Colored pencils or markers

Mississippi Studies textbooks and other reference books

OBJECTIVES

Students will:

Determine reasons for the increase in slave trading in Mississippi.

Describe the slave trading business.

Create a map which includes sites found along routes used by slave traders.

OPENING THE LESSON

Ask the class how they might feel if they were asked to move away from their homes and families to another city. Have the students speculate on what might cause them to be forced to move away from their families and homes. Ask the students if employers could legally force an employee to relocate away from their families today. Remind the students that American slaves were given no choice in relocating due to work demands. Inform the students that slave trading was actually a very profitable business. In fact, slaves were often uprooted long distances due to profitable ventures for the slave traders. Inform the students that one of the most success slave markets after the War of 1812 was located in Natchez, Mississippi.

DEVELOPING THE LESSON

1.

Place the following statements on the chalkboard or on an overhead transparency.

a.

Why did the growing demand for cotton in the textile mills of New England cause increase in slave trading in Mississippi?

b.

How did the development of the cotton gin affect the need for slaves?

c.

How did the development of the steamboat affect the transportation of slaves?

d.

Why did the price of slaves steadily rise as the nation moved closer to civil war?

2.

Allow the students to work with partners for this phase of the lesson. Instruct the partners to copy the questions onto a sheet of notebook paper. Instruct the students to answer the questions. Allow the students to share their responses with the class in order to facilitate a discussion on the reasons for the growth of slavery and hence the slave trading business in Mississippi. The teacher can record the responses on the chalkboard. Remind the students that the answers to these questions will not be located in the Mississippi History Now article. They must draw conclusions as to why the situation referred to in the question exist.

3.

Have a student volunteer to read out loud Joseph Holt Ingraham’s description of the Forks of the Road slave market. This excerpt is located in the Mississippi History Now article.

4.

Have the students volunteer to speculate on the feelings and emotions experienced by the slaves in this description. The teacher can record the student responses on the board. Inform the students that they will create a map used by slave traders during the early 1800s and compose journal entries for a slave who may have traveled along the routes displayed on their maps. Have them keep in mind the feelings and emotions felt by these slaves as they complete these assignments.

5.

Allow the students to work with partners to find the following locations, which are mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article. The students can label the locations on a blank map of the United States or be instructed to draw their own maps.

a.

Mississippi cities: Aberdeen, Crystal Springs, Vicksburg, Woodville, Jackson, Natchez

b.

U.S. cities: Alexandria, Virginia; New Orleans, Louisiana

c.

Road: the Natchez Trace

d.

River: the Mississippi River

6.

Instruct the partners to compose four journal entries for a slave who traveled from Alexandria, Virginia, to the Forks of the Road slave market by way of the Natchez Trace or the Mississippi River. Have the students record entries in the journal from locations along the route. Also, have the students express how the slaves were treated and the feelings and emotions they may have experienced on this journey.

CLOSING THE LESSON

Allow the students to share one or more of the journal entries with the class as well as their maps that indicate the route of the journey taken by the slave traders.

ASSESSING STUDENT LEARNING

1.

Class participation

2.

Written responses to questions

3.

Maps

4.

Journal entries

EXTENDING THE LESSON

1.

Allow the students to design a memorial to be built at the Forks of the Road slave market (a marker already exists).

2.

Allow the students to design exhibits that might be placed in a museum at the site of the Forks of the Road slave market.

3.

Allow students to create a political cartoon about slave trading that might be published in an abolitionist newspaper during this period.

4.

Take a field trip to Natchez and visit the site of the Forks of the Road slave market as well as other historic locations there.

5.

Allow the students to stage a debate concerning the preservation of sites such as the Forks of the Road. Due to urban development, historical preservation of some historic sites has been challenged.

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