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Proclamation in Response to the Chesapeake Affair

Name of Corresponding Unit Plan: War of 1812

Grade Level: 9-12

Common Core Standards
R.9-10.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
R.9-10.9. Analyze seminal U.S. documents of historical and literary, including how they
address related themes and concepts.
W.9-10.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Content Areas: Reading, Writing, Social Studies

Recommended Length/Duration: 45-60 minutes

Learning Goals: Students will read and analyze text from a primary source document.


  1. Students should have familiarity with the British practice of impressments and the events that took place known as the “Chesapeake Affair.”
  2. Introduce the task by discussing different ways governments respond to foreign aggression.
  3. Point out that the document is written in the formal language of the early 19th Century. Point out, or have students identify unfamiliar words that will impede understanding and fluency in reading.
  4. Point out that the structure of the piece first points out the reasons for the proclamation, then the actions to be taken, and finally the acceptable exceptions.
  5. Read the proclamation aloud or have students read it individually.
  6. After the reading, review the directions and questions on the worksheet. Clarify any questions about what students are to do.
  7. Have students work in small groups or individually to answer the questions. Encourage them to return to the text of the proclamation regularly to capture the appropriate details.
  8. When students have had time to finish their responses, review them together. Encourage students to add to their responses anything they overlooked. Clarify and errors or disagreements.

Assessments: Collect worksheets and assess for completeness and accuracy.

Proclamation in Response to the Chesapeake Affair and worksheet (pdf); Wall map (optional)

Special Considerations: The language of the proclamation is difficult and archaic. Provide whatever level of support is necessary to help students understand the key ideas it presents. The articles are provided in a script and print version. Teachers may want to use this as an opportunity for students to practice reading script.

Extensions: Students may be interested in other writings of President Jefferson. Students may want to debate which would have been the best course of action following the Chesapeake Affair. Students may want to research and discuss other aggressive acts against a country and what was done about it. Students may want to research other examples of weak countries trying to retaliate against strong countries.