Lesson Plan: Overview

Trial at the Turn of the Century: A Window on a World

Grade Level: High School


Academic Standards

Standard USHC-5: The student will demonstrate an understanding of major social, political, and economic developments that took place in the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century.

USHC-5.1 Summarize developments in business and industry, including the ascent of new industries, the rise of corporations through monopolies and corporate mergers, the role of industrial leaders such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, the influence of business ideologies, and the increasing availability of consumer goods and the rising standard of living. (E, H)
USHC-5.2 Summarize the factors that influenced the economic growth of the United States and its emergence as an industrial power, including the abundance of natural resources; government support and protection in the form of tariffs, labor policies, and subsidies; and the expansion of international markets associated with industrialization. (E, G, H, P)
USHC-5.4 Analyze the rise of the labor movement, including the composition of the workforce of the country in terms of gender, race/ethnicity, and skills; working conditions for men, women, and children; and union protests and strikes and the government’s reactions to these forms of unrest. (H, E)
USHC-5.6 Explain the influx of immigrants into the United States in the late nineteenth century in relation to the specific economic, political, and social changes that resulted, including the growth of cities and urban ethnic neighborhoods, the restrictions on immigration that were imposed, and the immigrants’ responses to the urban political machines. (H, G, P, E)
USHC-5.7 Compare the accomplishments and limitations of the progressive movement in effecting social and political reforms in America, including the roles of Theodore Roosevelt, Jane Addams, W. E. B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington. (H, P, E)
Social Studies Literacy Elements
K. Use texts, photographs, and documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships
N. Challenge ad hominem and other illogical arguments (e.g., name calling, personal attacks, insinuation and innuendo, circular arguments)
O. Consider multiple perspectives of documents and stories
P. Locate, gather, and process information from a variety of primary and secondary sources including maps

Historical Background Notes

No historical background notes available for this lesson plan.


  Primary Sources
  • "Tillman Finds Friends in Gonzales' Enemies." Florence Times, 1903. From Gonzales - Tillman Scrapbooks, 1903. Manuscripts Division, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
    Secondary Sources
  • Jones, Lewis Picket. Stormy Petrel:  N.G. Gonzales and His State. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1973.
  • Moore, John Hammond. Columbia and Richland County. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1993.

    Lesson Plans

    No lesson plan available.


    1. A “reenactment” of jury selection in a trial such as Gonzales’, will begin with the dramatic entry of the judge (probably played by the teacher) into the courtroom.  By lecture, the potential jurists will be reminded of the context for their convening and be put under oath.  Then each jurist will be questioned by prosecution and defense lawyers (these being two of the assigned identities given the day before).  The judge will use this time to assess the knowledge of each student of the issues of the day.  The lawyers will evaluate each jurist for inclusion in the trial.  The rest of the students will take notes on statements by each potential jurist, whether or not it appears they have understood Gonzales views and the position of the historical character, and whether that person would be a good jurist.
    2. When the process is completed the judge will announce the court is about ready to select a jury.  However, the defense attorney (as previously assigned by the teacher) will announce he has a motion he wants the judge to consider, which motion he will hand to the judge.  The motion calls for the trial to be shifted to Lexington County because of greater possibility of a neutral jury.  The judge and the attorney, who seem to be very good friends, step out of the room for a conference.  On returning, the judge announces that the trial will indeed be held in Lexington.
    3. The judge will then revert to teacher and show clippings regarding the end of the trial--Tillman acquitted.  He will also discuss the nature of the all-white jury that rendered the verdict.  The shock value of having a trial moved out-from their jurisdiction, and of the document describing the questionable conclusions, should create great interest and reflection. 
    4. The follow-up assignment will be for the students to write a short essay putting the trial in context, describing their reactions to the outcome, and drawing conclusions that can aid us today. End of content
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    Teacher Reflections

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    Student Assessment

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    Examples of Students Work

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    Provided by the Teaching American History in South Carolina Project