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The Chesapeake Affair

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: War of 1812

Grade Level: 4-12

Common Core Standards
RI.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
R.6-12.1. Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Content Areas: Reading, Social Studies

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will learn about an important incident leading up to the War of 1812.
Students will analyze a historic event and consider alternative actions.


  1. Introduce the article by discussing the British practice of impressments. It is important to point out that while British warships regularly boarded American merchant ships, to attack another country’s warship was generally considered an act of war.
  2. Discuss or use a wall map to identify where Hampton Roads, Norfolk, and Halifax are located.
  3. Have students read the article independently, as a small group, or together as a class.
  4. Have students answer the questions independently or as a small group.
  5. When students have had a chance to answer the questions, have them share their responses. The teacher should correct any errors and resolve any disagreements.
  6. After students have shared what they would have done if they had been Captain of Chesapeake, decide by vote or consensus what the class thinks would have been the best course of action.

Assessments: Collect and assess the accuracy of responses.

The Chesapeake Affair article and worksheet (pdf); Wall map (optional)

Special Considerations: The teacher may want to group weaker readers in a group with stronger readers.

Extensions: Students may be interested in researching other aggressive acts of a strong country against a weaker one. Students might be interested in debating what the United States government should have done following the Chesapeake affair.