School Improvement in Maryland

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 4. Analyze how the institution of slavery impacted individuals and groups in Maryland

Objective a. Compare the lives of slave families and free blacks

While it is difficult for elementary school students to fully comprehend life under slavery, it is perhaps even more difficult for them to understand the experience of living as a free black in a time of slavery. Free blacks in Maryland lived in a condition that was not quite slave, but not quite free. It was a murky middle ground that is difficult to explain. To help students get a better sense of what it meant to be a "free black" in Maryland prior to the Civil War, have them read narratives written by free blacks. These are relatively difficult to come by. Two that are available on the internet are the account of a free black woman working as a "doctor" in Baltimore County mesn080.db&recNum=16&itemLink=D?mesnbib:19:./temp/~ammem_XOgS:: and the account of an ex-slave who worked for many years in Harford County mesn080.db&recNum=16&itemLink=D?mesnbib:19:./temp/~ammem_XOgS:: — focus on page 6 to the top of page 7). After learning about slavery, have students read one or both of these accounts. Ask them to create a two-column chart, one side of which is labeled "Restrictions" and the other side of which is labeled "Freedoms." As they read, have students list elements of the narrator's life in the appropriate column. For example, Eliza Foote, the woman doctor, was taught to read and write, which would be listed under "Freedoms." However, she was forced to leave the state when accused of helping a slave escape, which would be listed under "Restrictions." When students have finished reading and completed their charts, have a class discussion or ask students to write a paragraph addressing this question: To what extent were free African Americans really free?

Resources for Objective 5.C.4.a:
Clarifications | LESSON SEEDS |