Brother Against Brother

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10132

Different people have different opinions about different things, especially from different cultures; that's natural. How you solve differences is different. Learn what happens when perspectives clash!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Has there ever been a time when you and your sibling or friend disagreed about something? What did you disagree about? Did you even fight about it? How did you resolve it?

Disagreements happen all the time!

Usually, they happen when two people see a situation in different ways.

For example, you might disagree with your sibling about a toy. You had the toy first, then went to go get something, and when you came back, your sibling was playing with it. You believe you should get the toy back because you were only gone for a minute, but your sibling sees the situation in another way. He or she says you put the toy down, so now he or she can play with it. Both of you think you should get to play with the toy, because both of you see the situation differently. You both believe you are right in your own point of view, which is called perspective.

Different perspectives cause many disagreements and wars in history. Today, we are going to learn about the Civil War, also called the War Between Brothers because brothers fought against each other. This war divided not only families, but communities, cities, and the whole country. Each side was fighting for what they thought was freedom.

Think over these questions:

  • What is your understanding of freedom?
  • Why do you have that perspective?
  • Are you influenced by what your parents think, what you see on TV, or the thoughts of your friends?

It is hard not to be influenced by all of those factors, and they help form our perspective and that of others. Where you live, what your family believes, and what you are taught, go into your perspective.

Watch THE CIVIL WAR - A Kid Explains History, Episode 19 to learn more about the Civil War. As you view the video, listen and watch for any new information about the war.

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After viewing the video, share your thoughts on the following:

  • What was one new thing you learned about the Civil War?
  • Can you believe how many people died during the Civil War?

Let’s look again at perspective, and this time we will look into the perspective of the main groups — the majority groups — around the time of the Civil War.

They were:

  • the Southern Whites.
  • the Northern Whites.
  • the Abolitionists.
  • the Southern African Americans.

The South is where slavery was most prevalent, because white men wanted free labor to work on their large farms, called plantations. So, how do you think the Southern Whites felt about freedom?

They believed freedom only belonged to the white man, and slavery should be preserved, because that is the sole purpose of African Americans. They thought the government and the Northerners were trying to interfere too much in their lives and abolish slavery.

Many southerners strongly believed states had the right to decide the issue of slavery for themselves, and did not believe the federal government should decide for them. So, the only way to keep their life the same and be free was to secede — separate — from the Union.

What do you think the Southern African Americans — the slaves — believed freedom meant? They believed that, in order to be free, slavery should be abolished, and they should have the same rights as white men: owning land, freedom to vote, receiving pay for working, etc.

The Northern Whites believed slavery should not be allowed, but they did not believe African Americans were equal to white men. To them, freedom was about money. Slave labor was cheap, so the Southerners were very wealthy, and the Northerners did not like that. So if slavery were abolished, there would be economic freedom in the job market.

The Abolitionists were considered a radical group in the Civil War era. They were African Americans and whites who believed slavery was a horrible thing and that all men were equal, no matter what color. To them, freedom was equal rights for all men and the abolishment (outlawing) of slavery.

That is a lot of information to take in! Here is another source, The American Civil War Overview & Causes, from, for you to look at so you can understand more about the viewpoints of the Northern and Southern states.

What perspective is closest to yours? Why?

After some thought, move on to the Got It? section to meet some individuals from these groups.

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