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Teaching Critical Thinking by Asking “Could Lincoln Be Elected Today?”



Because in his Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln said, “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,” and “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” it is accurate to report that he spoke the words “perish from the earth” and “died in vain.” But if his 1864 opponent, General George McClellan, had had the assistance of today’s wiliest campaign consultants, the public might have remembered something very different. This lesson promotes one of the literacy skills presented in the “National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies”: Evaluate sources for validity and credibility and to detect bias, propaganda, and censorship. Two political literacy sites of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania are featured in this article which are specifically designed for use in the high school classroom. One of the sites contains web pages that include quality videos specifically created to help classes recognize flaws in arguments in general and political ads in particular.