Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision Making
Propaganda is a tool used to persuade citizens to the author's point-of-view. The material is designed to have a psychological impact on the viewer. Students can study commercial publisher J. B. Elliott's map entitled Scott's great snake. Published in 1861, this map is a cartoon depiction of Gen. Winfield Scott's plan to defeat the South both economically and militarily - a plan the press ridiculed as the "Anaconda Plan."
Students can use this map as an example of one person's point-of-view on the course of the Civil War. After first reading outside resources describing Gen. Scott's intended course of action, students can determine what opinion this cartographer's map represents. Who was the cartographer trying to influence with this map?
Have students continue their research to determine what course of action Gen. Scott pursued and how this might have influenced the outcome of the war.
Continue this discussion with the students by having them consider what obligation they believe a newspaper might have to support the defenders of the nation? What is gained by periodicals publishing critiques such as Elliott's? What risks does a nation face in being critical of their own military forces, particularly during war?