The Southeast Region
Start in Tennessee and Georgia to learn about Sequoyah and his Cherokee brethren and follow the events of the Southeast region through European discovery, slavery, and the Civil War. Discover how the Civil Rights movement changed this region and how the people who inhabit these states live today.
Discover the history of the land and of the people who settled the Southeast Region of the United States.
- Students will identify the 12 states in the Southeast Region: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
- Students will know about the Native Americans that inhabited the area before the Europeans. Independent tribes like the Seminoles, the Choctaw, the Houmas, the Catawba, and the Powhatan lived across this region. Theses tribes had unique languages and customs. One of the best-known tribes from the Southeast region was the Cherokee; they were the first people to settle in this region. The Cherokee migrated to the Southeast from an area near the Great Lakes, and they settled in the area where the present-day states of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina all meet.
- Students will know about European exploration and settlement of the area. In 1565 Spanish explorers settled in Florida. They also settled in the Mississippi Delta; in time, the French made this area their home as well. In addition, European explorers settled small areas off the southeast coast, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In 1607, people sailed from England to what is now the state of Virginia. This was the site of the first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, which became the capital of the Virginia colony. In 1699 Williamsburg became the capital of the Virginia colony. By the mid 1700's, the Atlantic coastline was home to thirteen English colonies.
- Students will understand how the Southeast region became part of the United States. As the colonies grew, the colonists struggled more and more in their relationship with England. The colonists thought they should be able to make their own laws and they should not have to pay taxes to England. In 1774 the Royal Governor shut down the House of Burgesses, a legislative body for the Virginia colony. In response the colonists created the Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia in 1774. On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress approved The Declaration of Independence. Soon after, the Revolutionary War began. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, and England recognized that the United States was an independent country.
- Students will recognize the impact United States expansion had on the Native Americans. In 1838, the Cherokee were forced from their land by the government; they were sent to live on reservations that consisted of the present-day states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the Cherokee died from disease or extreme cold during the journey to the reservations. So great was the loss to the Cherokee that the journey became known as the "Trail of Tears."
- Students will know about the history of slavery in America. Beginning in the early 1600's, England, France and the Netherlands used slaves in the American colonies. Large farms in the Southeast required many people to work the land; it would have been expensive to hire laborers. So slaves were used as free labor. Unfortunately, slave owners often treated the slaves cruelly; they were nothing more than property.
- Students will know about the Underground Railroad. By the early 1800's, many northern states had made an effort to end slavery. Many slaves tried to escape to the north in order to gain their freedom. The Underground Railroad consisted of a group of people who would hide slaves, give them directions, and help them escape to northern states.
- Students will understand the causes of the Civil War. The North and South were almost like two different countries. The North relied on trade and industry, and the people in the South relied on agriculture and slavery. Eventually, the northern and southern states became deeply divided about economics, politics and slavery. Abolitionists in the north were calling for an end to slavery, and President Lincoln (elected in 1860) did not want to allow slavery in the states that were new to the country. Fearing that Lincoln would try to abolish slavery, eleven southeastern states decided to secede from the country and create the Confederate States of America. Jefferson Davis was named President of the Confederacy.
- Students will know about the Civil war. In April of 1861 the Civil War officially began and would last for four years. The war was fought mostly in the Southeast region. The Confederates knew this land, giving them an advantage. However, the Union Army had more soldiers and better supplies. In 1863 President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the states who were rebelling against the country. In April of 1865 General Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate Army, surrendered at the Appomattox courthouse; President Lincoln was assassinated five days later. In May of 1865, the Civil War finally ended when the last of the Confederate troops surrendered to the Union. The Southeast had seen many battles and much of the region was destroyed.
- Students will know about the continued struggle for equality that occurred after the Civil War. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution was signed after the Civil War. It made sure that slavery would never again be allowed in the United States. However, many of the former slaves knew no other life than working on the plantations, so they stayed and worked for little pay. For many years after the Civil War African Americans were denied their civil rights; in fact, segregation was common throughout the Southeast. There were many people who fought for the rights of African Americans, including Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- In 1955 a woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery city bus to a white man. She was arrested for breaking segregation laws. The black community in Montgomery organized a boycott, refusing to ride city buses until the segregation law was changed. The boycott was a success and the law was changed.
- Martin Luther King Jr. championed the use of nonviolent demonstrations to demand equality. He led the famous March on Washington, where he made a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial asking for equal treatment of all people. He won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. King was shot and killed in 1968.
- Students will know about the growth of the Southeast. As new machines were invented to help with farm work, farm workers had to move to the cities. Cities like Atlanta, Georgia and Montgomery, Alabama began to develop. Today, in the "new" South, banking and factories play a large part of an economy that once depended on agriculture for growth.
- Ask students to choose one person or group of people in the history of the Southeast Region that he/she believes made a significant impact on the region. Encourage students to use the video, textbook, and library resources to support their argument. Have each person present his or her argument to the class.
- Have students pick one period in the history of the Southeast. Ask them to prepare a journal of the day-to-day activities of someone their age during that period.
- Native Americans
- European Settlement
- English Settlers
- The Civil War
- Growth of Cities
- The Southeast Region Today