VSC Objective Alignment:
5.C.2. Explain the political, cultural, economic and social changes in Maryland
during the early 1800's
a. Describe Maryland's role in the War of 1812
6.D.1. Identify primary and secondary sources of information that relate to the
topic/situation/problem being studied
a. Gather and read appropriate print sources, such as textbooks, government
documents, timelines, trade books, websites.
VSC Social Studies Skills and Processes
6.A.1. Use appropriate strategies and opportunities to increase understandings of social
a. Acquire and apply new vocabulary through investigating, listening,
independent reading and discussing a variety of print and non-print sources
6.A.3. Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions
of text (during reading)
b. Use a graphic organizer or another note-taking technique to record important
ideas or information
Teacher Background Information
The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain from June 1812
to the spring of 1815. Beginning with the end of the American Revolution in 1783 Britain
frustrated the new nation by failing to withdraw from the area around the Great Lakes,
supporting the Indians in the frontier and refusing to enter into equitable commercial
agreements with the United States. Especially egregious was the practice of impressing
Americans into British service.
One of the actions taken by the United States was the passing of the Embargo Act
banning all American ships from foreign trade. The embargo failed to change British and
French policies but succeeded in devastating New England shipping. Additionally, other
economic measures that were attempted failed to deter the Europeans in their destructive
policies aimed at the United States. The elected Congress of 1810 included a group
known as the War Hawks who demanded war against Great Britain. New England
shippers who feared further destruction of their trade opposed war. However, on June 18,
1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war that Congress passed. The
first two years of the war saw numerous campaigns, many of which devastated the young
In 1814 the United States faced complete defeat. The British planned to attack the United
States in three main areas: in New York along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River; at
New Orleans; and in the Chesapeake Bay. The British appeared near success in the late
summer of 1814. American resistance to the diversionary attack in Chesapeake Bay was
so weak that the British, after winning the Battle of Bladensburg, marched into
Washington, D.C., and burned most of the public buildings. President Madison had to
flee into the countryside. The British then turned to attack Baltimore but met stiffer
resistance and were forced to retreat after the American defense of Fort McHenry.
Transparencies of each Student Handout
1 copy for each student of Handout "Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812"
Colored pencils or thin lined markers
Copies of primary source documents and graphic organizers for Group Handouts (1 for
each pair of students)
Letter written by John and S. Bell to Thomas C. Bell
Letter written by John Harris to Doctor William Harris
Paper for newspaper article
Duplicate worksheets and primary source documents
Prepare transparencies or charts of each activity from the worksheets
The purpose of this activity is to provide the students with an example of the mood of the citizens of Baltimore prior to the British attack in September of 1814.
Display Transparency 1
Read aloud the words of the song.
Ask the students to interpret what they think the words mean. (The students
should be able to explain that this is a poem, or message about a battle or war.
(Accept all responses.)
Reread the words again, line by line and "translate" for the students.
Tell the students that this was an old song that the citizens of Baltimore sang
when they knew that the British troops under the command of General Ross
where advancing on Baltimore. Get reactions from the students regarding the
mood of the citizens based on the words of the song.
Assessment (Student Product)
Direct students to prepare a newspaper report using the facts from the primary
Display the newspaper articles on a bulletin board.
Have students share the newspaper articles to retell the events related to Baltimore's
participation in the War of 1812.
Student Grouping: When assigning students to work in groups, make sure that groups
are heterogeneously mixed so that there is an opportunity for peer support.
Primary Source Documents: For low literacy students, provide student friendly
wording for each document. Assign passages based on level of difficulty and student
Maryland Adventure by Suzanne Ellery Chapelle pages 93-95
Cobblestone Magazine. James and Dolley Madison, March 1996,
Volume 17 - Number 3.