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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom

Settlement Unit

Lesson 2: Frontier Justice

1. Background information for teachers:

 

The Constitution of 1819, Article IV, Section 11, gave the Governor of Alabama the power to grant reprieves and pardons in all criminal and penal cases, except those of treason and impeachment, and to remit fines and forfeitures. Citizens frequently wrote to the Governor to plead for or against the pardon of a convicted criminal. The Governors' Papers contain correspondence, petitions, legal documents, etc., relating to pardons from crimes, parole from sentences and remission of fines imposed. Most items give details of the crime, and of the criminals' background and family life. The Secretary of State kept a record of pardon and parole certificates issued by the Governor.

 

2. Learning Objectives:


Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

 

1. Identify legal terms and explain their meaning.


2. Identify constitutional powers given to the governor relative to crimes committed.


3. Explain the meaning of "pardon and parole."


4. Explain the role of the Secretary of State in relation to pardons and paroles.


5. Compare frontier punishment, (branding, pillory, 39 lashes) with today.

 

3. Suggested activities:

 

1. Make copies of Documents 1, 1a, 1b, 2, 2a, 2b, and 2c and distribute to students.


2. Give the students about five to seven minutes to read the cases and petitions.


3. Define unfamiliar words and legal terms (or have students look them up) such as:

"pillory," "clemency," "mayhem," "affray," "penitence," "adversary," "aiders and abettors," etc.


4. Divide the class into two groups. Assign one of the cases to each group.


5. Ask each student to record:

a. the prisoner's name
b. crime
c. date convicted
d. sentence
e. the governor's name
f. statement approving parole
g. date
h. the name of the Secretary of State.

 

6. Give each group time to discuss their case among themselves and vote on whether they think the person charged with the crime deserved to be pardoned. Select one student from each group
to report their conclusions on their case to the class.


7. Let the students vote on:

 

a. which crime they think is most severe
b. if the punishment was fair
c. if the person should have been pardoned

 

8. Ask the students to write a paragraph explaining how they analyzed their case and how they came to their conclusions.

 

Documents:


Document 1: Alabama Secretary of State, Pardon and parole certificates, SG8758. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.


Document 1a: Alabama Governor (1821-1825: Pickens), Pardons, paroles and clemency files, SG4162, folder 10. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.


Document 1b: Alabama Governor (1821-1825: Pickens), Pardons, paroles and clemency files, SG4162, folder 10. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.


Document 2: Alabama Secretary of State, Pardon and parole certificates, SG8758. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.


Document 2a: Alabama Governor (1821-1825: Pickens), Pardons, paroles and clemency files, SG4162, folder 9. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.


Document 2b:Alabama Governor (1821-1825: Pickens), Pardons, paroles and clemency files, SG4162, folder 9. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.


Document 2c: Alabama Governor (1821-1825: Pickens), Pardons, paroles and clemency files, SG4162, folder 9. Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.

 

Go to Lesson 3: Alabama Fever

 

Updated: March 3, 2010

http://www.archives.alabama.gov/teacher/settle/set2.html