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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a unit of the National Park System and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.  This lesson is based on the National Register registration file, "Fort McHenry" (with photographs), on The Star-Spangled Banner: The Making of an American Icon, written by Lonn Taylor, Kathleen M. Kendrick, and Jeffrey L. Brodie, and on materials prepared for Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.  The lesson was written by Marilyn Harper, former Teaching with Historic Places historian, and edited by staff members of the Teaching with Historic Places program and of Fort McHenry.

This lesson was made possible with funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.  This lesson is one in a series of lessons that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history, social studies, government, and civics courses in units on the War of 1812 and the early Federal period and on American political history.
Time period:  Mid-19th to mid-20th century
United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Read how one high school teacher has used this lesson in his classroom.

Objectives for students
1) to describe the events of September 12-14, 1814, as related by the commander of Fort McHenry,
2) to describe the fort in relation to the British bombardment,
3) to explain how “The Star-Spangled Banner” came to be written and to analyze the meaning of its text,
4) to identify ways in which the American victory and “The Star-Spangled Banner” contributed and continue to contribute to Americans’ pride in and identification with their nation, and
5) to identify and investigate places that are important to the local community’s identity and civic pride.

Materials for students
The materials listed below can be used directly on the computer or printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students.  The maps and images appear twice: in a small version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) one map showing Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry,
2) two documents: the official report on the bombardment and the original broadside version of the “Defence of Fort McHenry,”
3) two readings about the composition of the poem that would become” The Star-Spangled Banner” and the later history of the War of 1812 and the song,
4) four illustrations: an image of the fort, two representations of the battle, and a World War II poster, and
3) three photos of the fort and the preserved flag today.

Visiting the site
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is located at 2400 East Fort Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland, about three miles southeast of the Baltimore Inner Harbor and just off I-95.  Brown “Fort McHenry” directional signs along all major routes direct visitors to the park.  Visits should begin at the Visitor Center, which is open daily from 8:00 A.M. to 4:45 P.M., except on Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1, when the park is closed.  There is an entrance fee to the historic area of the park; the fee is good for seven days.  For more information, visit the Fort McHenry website.  Teachers may apply for an educational fee waiver or special presentations by park rangers.  Details are available on the park’s Group Arrangements website.



Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.