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War of 1812 Educator Resources

War of 1812 Educator Resources

The War of 1812 is often portrayed as the conflict that “forged a nation” or as the “second war of independence.” It is memorialized in our National Anthem and celebrated at historic sites and events across the country. Yet it remains one of the least taught and poorly understood periods of American history. While the events of the war are well documented, it is interpreted very differently by each of the parties to the conflict. It is largely ignored by the British, who viewed it as a minor event in the much larger war with Napoleon in Europe. It is celebrated in Canada as a successful defense of their territorial and cultural integrity against an expansionist neighbor. While it was widely unpopular and brought near ruin to the United States, it is remembered as a conflict in which the young nation stood up to assert its newly won independence. For the First Nations it was the beginning of the end and the last chance to avoid the long “trail of tears” that followed. Although the war was bitterly contested, and settled with a return to the status quo, it reinforced the social and economic bonds between the combatants that resulted in 200 years of peace.

The War of 1812 was largely a naval war. It was in part fought over free trade and sailor’s rights. Most of the British incursions were prosecuted with naval force and most of the American victories were won at sea. It is also noteworthy that the Champlain Valley was of critical strategic importance and that perhaps the single most important battle to determine the outcome of the war was fought on what is now our beautiful and beloved Lake Champlain. So it is entirely fitting to focus on the critical role maritime enterprises and the Champlain Valley played in the conflict.

This collection of War of 1812 lesson plans is designed to enhance teachers’ classroom instruction. We have attempted to provide teachers with a collection of resources that provide everything they need to supplement regular classroom activities. In developing the materials three major themes emerged:

Teachers can pick and choose among the lesson plans those that best address their instructional goals. We also hope that teachers will make modifications or additions that will enable their students to engage more effectively with the material.

It is our intention to add to this collection. We invite teachers to help us in this effort by submitting your original lesson plans for publication on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum website to share with colleagues elsewhere. Please contact the LCMM Education Department if you would be willing to contribute to this effort.

Lesson Plans

Download the entire War of 1812 Educator Resources as a PDF (8.9mb)


Thomas Macdonough



This project was generously supported by the Beach Foundation and the Vermont Council on the Humanities.