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Conflict Analysis: Should the US join the war in Korea?

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
4-5 15 minute periods at the end of daily lessons or up to 2 90 minute class periods
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will be discovering their own knowledge of why the United States was compelled to join the war in Korea and the attitudes toward it.
  • Cooperative learning
  • Analyzing primary documents
  • Completing graphic organizer
Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Students will be discovering their own knowledge of why the United States was compelled to join the war in Korea and the attitudes toward it.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Practice analyzing primary documents
  • Summarize findings into a graphic organizer
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met


2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

DESE Social Studies CLEs for US History

  • 1A – Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances
  • 2A – Checks and Balances in the context of US History
  • 3aI – Expanding role of government
  • 3aL – Changing roles of Separation of Powers
  • 3aW – Domestic and foreign policy during the Cold War
  • 3aX – wars of the 20th century involving the US
  • 7A – distinguish between and analyze primary and secondary sources
  • 7C – distinguish between sources to recognize bias and point of view
  • 7F – interpret primary documents


Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).

3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations, containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 4: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in contemporary United States history (since 1990).

(K) Examines the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world in the post Cold War era (e.g., domestic and international terrorism, United States as the single superpower, United States involvement in the Middle East conflict, spread and resistance to United States popular culture).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in United States history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in United States history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

3. (A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S. history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary

4. (A) compares competing historical narratives in United States history by contrasting different historians’ choice of questions, use of sources, and points of view, in order to demonstrate how these factors contribute to different interpretations.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • A History of the United States textbook by Boorstin & Kelley, Prentice Hall, 2007
  • Unforgettable: The Korean War by PBS– This is a new video I just obtained.  I have not watched it yet, but it looked promising. 
  • NARA Document Analysis – this could be copied onto the back of the Conflict Analysis chart.
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed

5 Stations

  1. National Interests and Beliefs – What was the case for war?
    1. War Department Incoming Classified Message (October 1, 1945)
    2. Excerpt from Truman Doctrine Speech (March 12, 1947) – focus toward middle and end
    3. Niles W. Bond to Eben Ayers, With Attached Telegram (July 14, 1950)
    4. State Department Opinion Summary (July 24, 1950)
    5. Report to the American People on Korea (April 11, 1951) – transcript and audio at
    6. Memorandum of Conversation (December 6, 1950)
    7. United Nations Security Council Resolution, (June 25, 1950)
    8. “It’s gettin’ redder ‘n’ redder” political cartoon


  1. Goals and Objectives – What does the United States want to accomplish?
    1. "The Position of the United States With Respect to Korea," National Security Council Report 8 (April 2, 1948)
    2. Correspondence Between Joseph O’Mahoney and Harry S. Truman (June 28, 1950) 
    3. Handwritten note by President Truman (June 30, 1950)
      Handwritten note
    4. Report, National Security Council Policy on Korea (November 6, 1950)
    5. Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (July 31, 1950)
    6. Douglas MacArthur to Joint Chiefs of Staff (September 28, 1950)
    7. Report, National Security Council Policy on Korea (November 6, 1950)
    8. Harry S. Truman to Douglas MacArthur (January 13, 1951)
    9. Memo Regarding Instructions to General Douglas MacArthur At the Outbreak of the Korean War, (ca. June 1951)


  1. Support –Do the Americans and other nations support going to war?
    1. Carolyn Aquino to Harry S. Truman (June 28, 1950)
    2. Correspondence Between Clark M. Clifford and Harry S. Truman (June 30, 1950)
    3. Mr. and Mrs. Wylie Akenson to Harry S. Truman (July 12, 1950)
    4. John M. Chang to Harry S. Truman (July 17, 1950)
    5. Ann and George Ash to Harry S. Truman (July 12, 1950)
    6. Memorandum of Conversation (July 19, 1950)
    7. Memorandum of Conversation (July 28, 1950)
    8. Mrs. Ronald Whitman, Jr., to Harry S. Truman with Reply From William D. Hassett (August 4, 1950) – just scanned page 2 is necessary
    9. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Ward to Harry S. Truman With Reply From William D. Hassett (August 8, 1950) – just scanned page 2 and 3 are necessary
    10. Report, "Status of United Nations Offers of Assistance for Korea" (October 6, 1950)
    11. Memorandum for the President, "World Reaction to the Wake Island Meeting", October 17, 1950


  1. Can America Be Successful?
    1. Army Department Message, Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (July 1, 1950) 
    2. Army Department Message (July 10, 1950)
    3. Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (July 31, 1950) 
    4. correspondence Between James E. Noland and Harry S. Truman (August 29, 1950) – scanned page 2 only 
    5. Memorandum for the President (September 27, 1950)
    6. Joint Chiefs of Staff to Douglas MacArthur (September 29, 1950) 
    7. Douglas MacArthur to Department of the Army (November 6, 1950) 


  1. Constitution and Legal Issues
    1. John B. Moullette to Clarence E. Moullette (January 16, 1951) – especially paragraph 5 
    2. Notes and Memoranda Regarding President Truman’s June 29, 1950 Press Conference (ca. June 1951) 
    3. The President’s News Conference June 29, 1950
    4. US  Constitution – Article 1 Section 8
    5. US Constitution – Article 2 Section 2
    6. UN Charter, Chapter 5 Article 23-25
    7. UN Charter, Chapter 7 Article 42
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

The teacher will:

  1. provide primary and secondary sources pertaining to the sections of the chart.  The