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Ohio Content Standards:

  • Grade 10 – History 9 e
  • Grade 11 – Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities 1 & 6
  • Grade 12 – Economics 2, 6 & 7, Government 1 & 2, Social Studies Skills and Methods 3

Duration of Lesson: two class periods – 50 minutes each, one block

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will collaboratively analyze and compare editorial cartoons focusing on the Prohibition era.
  • Students will determine the perspective of the cartoons.
  • Students will identify the cartoonists' intentions and evaluate the effectiveness of each cartoon's message.
  • Students will compare the issue of Prohibition to current civil liberties issues.

Summary: Students will learn about Prohibition as a restriction of a civil liberty in editorial cartoons. Students will analyze political cartoons from the Prohibition period and research political cartoons of current civil liberties issues. The class will discuss the differences and similarities.


  • Editorial cartoons 1-5 with publishing information and accompanying overhead transparencies (for teacher)
  • Cartoon Analysis Worksheet
  • Editorial cartoons 1-5 without publishing information (for students)
  • Media Lab


  1. Quick review of issues surrounding Prohibition and current civil liberties issues.
    1. What do you think a civil liberty is?
    2. Teacher will direct students toward Prohibition as a restriction of civil liberties.
  2. A review of the tools used by editorial cartoonists.

Instructional Steps:

  1. Complete pre-assessment discussion.
  2. Students will be given one of the five cartoons randomly and complete Cartoon Analysis Worksheet.
  3. When finished, students will find an editorial cartoon pertaining to a current civil liberties issue and complete Cartoon Analysis Worksheet on that cartoon.
  4. Class discussion on similarities and differences between Prohibition and current civil liberties events. (i.e. gun control, abortion, smoking, Patriot Act)
  5. Written response to short answer.

Short answer question: Why do Americans react so strongly to the restriction of any of their civil liberties?

"United States Rules for Living"

"Returned Soldier: I should have stayed home and fought for liberty."

"U.S.: I wonder if self-determination is meant only for Europe?"

"Death of Personal Liberty"

"To the American Soldier the Middle of the Road is Closed"