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Lincoln's Cabinet: Thesis Statement

Political Science and Lincoln Junkies, rejoice! A treasure trove of information awaits you.

Concept Mapping

One way of exploring your topic is by using concept mapping. In this video, the person is determining a topic for a paper, and exploring the relationship between college sucess and another topic. View this video to learn more.

Sample concept map

Sample concept map/brainstorm

Stanton was a former telegraph executive; Stanton was part of the War Department; Stanton advocated for its use 

Telegraph was conceived in 1832 by Morse;  obtained help from several others of importance;  received grant from Congress in 1843; sent 1st telegraph in 1844

Associate Press grew in stature by using telegraph for news reports during War

Two main telegraph lines pre-U.S. Civil War: American Telegraph North-South; Western Union East-West. American Telegraph lines disrupted during the war.

Railroads - Gould - and Vanderbuilt competed with telegraph

Union - more trained people, more equipment, more supplies and lines

Confederates - started earlier, fewere people, fewer supplies, also used "Wig-Wag" flags; shortage of line led to less use - used a train/line system

Spying on each other - disrupting communications - sabotage - encryption

Major battles

The Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.

A strong thesis statement provides the reader with a roadmap. It tells them where you are going, and how you plan to get there.

  1. Ask yourself what your subject is.
  2. What is the significant thing you want to say about your subject?


Thesis statement: Lincoln's decisions and actions during his first week in office precluded a peaceful resolution to the issue of slavery.

  • Subject: Lincoln's decisions and actions during his first week in office.
  • Significant "thing"- those actions precluded a peaceful resolution to the issue of slavery

Thesis statement: The telegraph played a major role in the Civil War.

  • Subject: The telegraph
  • Significant "thing" - it's role in communications between Lincoln and his Generals during the Civil War

 Thesis statement: Florida was actually the opening gambit in the Civil War, NOT Fort Sumter.

  • Florida's place in history
  • Significant "thing" - Fort Pickens, Florida. (we will discuss this during class)

Example of a bad Thesis statement:

Lincoln's cabinet shaped and influenced America's politics, government, geography, and history.

  • Subject: Lincoln's Cabinet
  • Significant "thing" their influence on politics, government, geography, history.... too much for one paper!


Outlining your Paper

  • You have the person's name you need to research.
  • You have some resources (including the Libguide).
  • You have done some reading and you took some notes.
  • You used a concept map to figure out the major themes.
  • You decided on a Thesis Statement.
  • The Thesis Statement has a "thing" that is important.
  • Now, you need to use your resources to create an outline that includes facts that support your Thesis.


Create an outline using a logical flow.

For example, if your topic were the Telegraph during the U.S. Civil War and your thesis statement was: The telegraph played a major role in the Civil War. You have to support that Thesis.

Even though Stanton is part of the concept map, the Thesis does not focus on Stanton, so you will not necessarily focus on Stanton immediately.

Fact One: The Union was better supplied  - trained people, raw materials
Fact Two: Lincoln's adoption of the technology
Fact Three: Encryption and sabotage
Fact Four: Battles


I. Thesis statement

II. Intro to Telegraph and its uses pre-Civil War

III. Stanton and Lincoln's interest in telegraph

IV. Use by War Department

V. Reasons why the Union used telegraph more successfully than Confederates
   a. supplies
   b. people
   c. strategy

VI. Review thesis statement using a summary of supporting information
     a. draw conclusion