War of 1812

The American Revolution was, of course, fought between America and Great Britain. The second war between America and Great Britain was the War of 1812.  Some historians feel that this was an unnecessary war and that the conflicts between the two countries could have been solved peacefully if both sides had communicated more effectively.

Tension had been building up between Great Britain and the United States for several years. The tension was about how the British treated American sailors, how the British were befriending Native Americans, and also about trade policies and taxes. When the war ended in December of 1814, the military fighting stopped, but none of the issues that started the war had been resolved.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about the War of 1812.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about the War of 1812.

Fort McHenry National Monument
Learn about Fort McHenry's role as birthplace of our national anthem. Francis Scott Key was an American attorney. During the War of 1812, he watched as the British bombarded Fort Henry on the shore. The fort withstood the attack, and in the morning as Francis Scott Key was being taken back to shore, he wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner.
Old Fort Niagara
Travel to Old Fort Niagra in upstate New York. It is one of the oldest standing pieces of military architecture in North America. It was captured by the British in 1813 during the War of 1812.
U.S.S. Constitution
Sail on the U.S.S. Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy. She was first put to sea in 1798, and was active in the War of 1812. Find out how this ship got the nickname, Old Ironsides.
White House
Take a tour of the White House. The British burned the White House in 1814 during the War of 1812, and President James Madison and his wife, Dolly, had to move out. It was, of course, later rebuilt.

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People To See

Andrew Jackson
Visit with Andrew Jackson. He was a general in he War of 1812 and defeated the British at the Battle of Orleans. He later became the 7th president of the United States.
James Madison
Talk with James Madison. He was the president during the last part of the War of 1812.
Life of Thomas Jefferson
Chat with Thomas Jefferson. He was the president of the United States during the first part of the War of 1812. He unsuccessfully tried to achieve a peaceful settlement with the British.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Meet famous Napoleon Bonaparte. Find out what his role was in the War of 1812 between England and the U.S.
Meet Tecumseh, the great Shawnee chief. He tried to unite the Native American tribes in the Indiana territory into a single, strong alliance. He felt that the Native Americans needed to stand together to stop the increasing flow of white settlers. He organized many attacks against American settlements, and Great Britain encouraged him to continue the aggression.
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. He took several hundred American troops and camped out near Tippecanoe Creek. Tecumseh had a brother who was known as Prophet, and his large village was across the creek. Prophet and his warriors attacked the troops but were badly defeated, and their village was burned.


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Things To Do

Battle of New Orleans
The Battle of New Orleans was an unnecessary battle. The United States and England had signed the Treaty of Ghent in Europe in December of 1814, ending the War of 1812. However, the news did not reach the United States in time to stop this battle which took place in January of 1815.
Second War with England
President James Madison laid before Congress a detailed report, showing 6,057 instances in which the British had "impressed" American citizens. This was one of the major factors in the U.S. declaring war on Great Britain. Find out what "impressed" means in this context.
Star-Spangled Banner and the War of 1812
Check out this resource from the Smithsonian Institute that tells the story of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the War of 1812. This resource describes events leading up to the September 14, 1814, battle between Great Britain and the United States.
Napoleonic Wars 
The War of 1812 between England and the United States was partly a result of ill feelings on the part of the U.S. about how England treated neutral countries during the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1814. Find out more.
War of 1812
See a chart of the British regiments that were involved in the war and take a War of 1812 quiz.
The War of 1812
Learn about the major battles in the war.

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Teacher Resources

A Guide to the War of 1812
The Library of Congress has compiled an extensive list of resouces in the government archives to help learn about the war of 1812.
The Burning of Washington
This collection of photographs, paintings, and historical information provides an excellent resource for teachers teaching America's history.
Fort McHenry: Teacher Resources
Here you will find several lessons and activities for students of grades 4-12. Many of these lessons are based on Maryland's Core Standards, but can be adjusted to help teach history.

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  • Carter, Alden R. The War of 1812: Second Fight for Independence. New York: F. Watts, c1992.
  • Gay, Kathlyn. War of 1812. New York: Twenty-First Century Books, 1995.
  • Katcher, Philip R.The American War, 1812-1814. London: Osprey, 1990.
  • Nardo, Don. The War of 1812.San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books, 1999.
  • Nardo, Don. The War of 1812. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, c1991.
  • Rutland, Robert Allen. The Presidency of James Madison. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, c1990.
  • Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Burning of Washington. Chicago : Childrens Press,1985.