The War of 1812
Should it be called the Second War of American Independence?

The time is the early 1800s. Great Britain and France are again at war, both on land and on sea. American ships and sailors are in danger. Impressment of Americans and their ships are being conducted by both the British and French, due partly to the blockade of Europe by both countries. President Jefferson retaliates by establishing the Embargo Act and the Non-Intercourse Act. However, these new laws do not help the American farmers, businessmen, shippers or trade. Then in 1808, James Madison is elected president. The War Hawks in Congress urge military action against Great Britain. In June of 1812, President Madison asks Congress to declare the first official United States war. In as much as Great Britain has recently defeated France’s Emperor Napoleon, it is eager to regain lands in America, as well as taxes from the "colonies." The British leaders plan a three-pronged attack against the United States. What happens next? What do we Americans do, and how do we fight back? Let’s travel back almost 200 years and find out!

Teacher Notes

The Task

You are a "news correspondent - investigative reporter." You will research one or more battles, or events, of the War of 1812. Following your research you will write an original article, which may include a map, drawing, or illustration. Your article may be written one of two ways:

  • a "broad side" (one page bulletin of information that was posted or passed among American's in the 1800s) or
    a magazine article that will become part of a group’s newsmagazine
  • Either the broad side or magazine article will depict this turning point in history. The article may be typed, computer generated print, or power point/hyper studio created. After the completion of each student’s or group’s broad side and/or magazine, the class, and you individually, will decide if the War of 1812 should be referred to as the Second War of Independence and why or why not.

    The Process

    • The whole class will construct a K-W-L (What we Know- What we Want to know- What we Learned) chart on the events leading up to and during the War of 1812. The K and W will be completed at the beginning of the assignment; the L will be completed after the magazines and any optional final projects are presented.
    • Your teacher will present vocabulary of the time period, as well as events that led up to the declaration of war. Be sure you write the meaning of terms and words that you do not know. You may also want to take notes on specific events that will help you understand the time period.
    • After your teacher presents the events and major battles of the War, you will choose which battle or event you wish to research. You may choose more than one battle or event, if you wish.
    • You will work one of two ways:
      • Individually to research and complete your broad sheet, or
      • Your class will be divided into groups of five to eight students each. Each group member will write at least one article about one facet of the war. Each article in your collaborative magazine will focus on a different battle or event, with a specific theme.
    • Begin your research by using the sites specifically designated for your battle or event. However, be sure to also review the general information sites and print sources as well.
    • As you research, use the following questions to guide you through the information. Investigative Information Sheet
      • Who was involved?
      • What happened?
      • Where did it happen?
      • Why did the event occur?
      • When does the event occur?
      • How did people act or react at that time?
      • How may their actions affect us today?
    • Use the information guide your teacher will provide to help you in taking notes. You must have your teacher review your note information before you begin to write your broad side or magazine article.
      • Be sure to read the source information and then paraphrase it into your own words.
      • If you copy the information as someone else writes it, be sure to use quotations and to cite your source.
    • If you are writing a magazine article give credit in your bibliography to the people whose information, words, or illustrations you are using. Write down the source information (in the place noted on Information Guide your teacher gave to you) as you complete the research, so you will not need to go back to find the citations.
    • Make notations on your Research Log as you are collecting research and then as you reflect upon the value of the information.
    • Write a broad side or magazine article about your selected topic. Be sure to include the five Ws and H (who, what, where, why, when and how) in the article. Your choices are as follows:
      • If you choose to write an Informational article it is to be factual, rather than present an obviously bias point of view.
      • However, if your choose to write a Feature article, remember that most Americans felt strongly about the War of 1812, either they were for or against the war. Therefore, your article must report both the facts as well as passionately reflect the general feelings of your readers, based upon the locality you choose. (Northeast, Middle states, South, or West)
    • If you choose to write an Editorial, remember it is your point of view, based upon the facts you know and how you interpret those facts. Your editorial is to be written as a persuasive article, for you are trying to get people to think your way. Propaganda Techniques


    The class may work as a whole group, with each individual student creating his/her broad side or it may be divided into magazine teams.
    BROAD SIDES: May be done as individual assignments or in teams. If the class and teacher selects teams, the magazine guidelines may be useful.
    MAGAZINE ARTICLES: Teams, of approximately 5 members each, may create a newsmagazine depicting various events of the War of 1812. After each student team member has researched his/her topic and individually written the specific news article, the articles will be combined to be either a group of broad side or a newsmagazine. The Team will make sure that different events, within a specific theme, are depicted in the magazine. Select one member to be the managing editor, to oversee the completion of your magazine. Members of the Team will create a cover, title, date, and index (table of contents) for their magazine. Team members may also find or create illustrations, maps, drawing, or political cartoons to enhance magazine articles.

    • Individually: Each team member will research (a minimum of three sources) and write a news article and also create or copy an illustration, drawing, map, or political cartoon. Each student will critique his/her own article using the class created (or provided) critique sheet. Each student will also critique a fellow team member’s article, using the class created or teacher provided critique sheet. Students will edit and rewrite articles, if necessary, to create the most professional and accurate information as possible.
    • In Groups: Each team, as a working group, will come to consensus and critique its own magazine (or group of Broad Sheets) using the class created or provided critique sheet. Each team, working as a group, will also critique two or more other team’s magazines. Use the same critique format that you used when evaluating your own work. Each team will also compile a list of things "learned" to be written in the "L" section of the class K-W-L Chart. The "What we Learned" items will be listed on the class chart by team members, as they are learned.
    • Individually or in your group: After critiquing a minimum of three magazines, each team member will create a single page analysis, using a triple Venn diagram. Depict three battles or events of the War of 1812 using these directions:
      • Turn your paper horizontally, and create a triple Venn diagram, or get a blank triple Venn from your teacher.
      • Label each section of the diagram with the event to be analyzed. (For example: The Battle of New Orleans, Impressment of American Seamen, The Burning of Washington City) You will choose the three events or battles to analyze.
      • Write brief notes about each event in the appropriate circle. You may use your magazine and others’ for information.
      • Write various points that pertain to more than one event in the appropriate crossover areas.
      • From these notes and your research, determine if the War of 1812 should be referred to as the Second War for Independence.
      • A tally vote will be taken from all students on your team and then combined into an entire class vote.
      • Then on the back of your Venn diagram (or on a separate piece of lined notebook paper), justify your decision and explain why, in paragraph format, the War of 1812 should or should not be referred to as the Second War for Independence and why.

    Link to Resources


    • Complete your research and have your teacher check your notes before you begin to write your magazine article.
    • Remember to include an illustration, map, drawing, or political cartoon to enhance your article.
    • All articles must be your original student work. Do not plagiarize!
    • Illustrations may be student created, downloaded, or copied from other sources. If using someone else’s work, be sure to cite the source.
    • All articles must be either computer generated or typed - no handprinted or handwritten work will be accepted.


    • Each student will complete one or more articles for the collaborative Team magazine.
    • Each article may include an illustration, drawing, map, or political cartoon.
    • Each student will complete a Research Log.
    • Students will complete class K-W-L chart.
    • Each Student will critique their own and peers’ work, by using a class or teacher created rubric.
    • Each student will create a triple Venn diagram reflecting three events during the War of 1812, then the student will determine if the War should or should not be referred to as the Second War of Independence.
    • Each student will write a justification as to why the War should or should not be referred to as the Second War of Independence.
    • Each student also has the opportunity to complete any of the optional assignments presented by the teacher as enrichment - extra credit opportunities.


    The War of 1812 was a turning point in American history. Many historians have argued about the reasons and results of the War. Through your teacher’s initial presentation, your own research, and the analysis of others’ work you have gained a further understanding of this time in our American history. The War of 1812 was directly responsible for the United States acquiring Florida and then moving on to realize Manifest Destiny. This war also impacted our neighbors to the North (Canada) and South (Mexico and South America) by the enactment of the Monroe Doctrine. It is amazing, to think that battles occurred after the treaty had been signed. This helps us realize that modern technology such as the internet, telephone, and television, allow people to immediately learn of world happenings and events, thereby, shaping the world we live in.


    Look at the process you followed in this unit of study. Please answer the following questions to help improve the teaching of this unit in the future. You will not be graded on the answer that you provide.

      1. How was it helpful to use an information sheet to take notes on either Internet or print
      2. How did researching increase your understanding of an event?
      3. Would it have been better if all students would have learned first hand about each
      4. How would you change this process to make it more meaningful to you?

    Last Revised:04/05/06