Lesson Plan

A Question of Loyalties: Mount Welby During the War of 1812 (Political Systems)

drawing of the burning of washington viewed from mount welby
Mount Welby's residents view the burning of Washington during the summer of 1814.
Billie Rush
Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
History, Maritime History, Political Science, War of 1812
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
Students will understand the historical development and current status of the fundamental concepts and processes of authority, power, and influence and the democratic skills and attitudes necessary to become responsible  citizens.


Oxon Cove Park has a rich history that includes the story of the Debutts, a British family that came to America in the late 1700s.  The  Debutts family finally settled on a hilltop overlooking the Potomac River that  today is known as Oxon Cove Park. It is from this hilltop that Mrs. DeButts witnessed the British capture of Alexandria and the Burning of Washington. The family even found Congreve Rockets on this hill!


Students will identify and explain the principles of the United States government expressed in stories, symbols, poems, songs, and landmarks. 

Students will interpret fiction and non-fiction passages about people, places, and events related to the American political system.


The DeButts of Mount Welby 

War Come to Mount Welby

A Question of Loyalties  

A Day and Night of Horrors

Rockets on the Hill

The Capture of Alexandria

 Ships in the River


Part 1.

Reviewing The Star Spangled Banner

Activity 1: Discussion and Analysis

Read The Star-Spangled Banner and discuss each line in the first stanza.

Activity 2: Review and Map Identification

Review the song's historical context with the students and point out the following locations on a classroom map: Upper Marlboro, Bladensburg, Baltimore, Fort McHenry, and Mount Welby (present day Oxon Cove Park/Oxon Hill Farm), home of the DeButts family.

  • Ask students where your school is located in relationship to these sites.
  • Explain to students why Francis Scott Key was on a British ship during the Battle of Baltimore and bombardment of Fort McHenry.
Activity 3. Analysis and Research

Instruct the students to write a paragraph or draw a picture on why they think The Star-Spangled Banner song was chosen to be our National Anthem. Ask students to find out when the song became our National Anthem.

Part 2:
Oxon Cove Park and The Star Spangled Banner

Activity 1: Viewing The Resources

Activity 2: Writing

Ask students to draw a picture or write a story on how they would have felt, as an American citizen, to find a British congreve rocket on their hill. Remind the students that a congreve rocket is what Francis Scott Key refers to in The Star Spangled Banner when he writes about the " rockets red glare."

Part 3:

Putting It All Together


Lesson Plan

Activity1: Writing

  • Instruct students to wirte about two different perspectives of the War of 1812.
    Francis Scott Key
    Mrs. DeButts
  • Do you think Mrs Debutts would have thought The Star-Spangled Banner an appropriate choice for our National Anthem?
Tell students that they must provide examples from both texts to support their product.