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America at War: 1812

written by: Pamela Martin • edited by: Patricia Gable • updated: 1/17/2012

Pirates, forced labor, kidnapping, and land and sea battles abound in this War of 1812 WebQuest. Read about the fighting between centuries-old enemies, Britain and France, and find out why the new United States found it necessary to join the conflict.

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    War of 1812: Second American Revolution


    Some historians have referred to the War of 1812 as the second war for independence; it has also been called the “forgotten war." The new United States, barely 30 years old, was caught between two powerful nations, either of which could be expected to defeat the untested nation both easily and soundly. Although the fighting was first between Great Britain and France, the actions of both countries eventually drew the United States into the fray. There was even discord within the U.S. over which side of the conflict to join, with the Democratic Republicans generally supporting France, while the Federalists favored the British alliance.


    Your team members are journalists who are responsible for creating a weekly newspaper for a small town in the United States. Your job is to use this War of 1812 WebQuest create a four-page special edition about the War of 1812.

    You will also work individually to complete an essay-writing assignment.


    Use the websites below to gather information for your newspaper. Your articles should include a minimum of two major “hard news" articles, one biographical feature, one other feature article, and one editorial/opinion piece. Fill the remaining spaces with more news or feature articles and with pictures related to the war; you may also include one or two small advertisements, either for goods or for recruiting sailors and soldiers. Your coverage must include:

    • Barbary piracy
    • Continued British presence on American territory (treaty violations)
    • Impressment
    • Major battles
    • Star-Spangled Banner

    Use these sites to gather facts. Work with your team to divide the tasks and to develop an appealing layout for your newspaper. Remember these journalism ideas:

    A. Serif fonts are generally easier to read.

    B. White space, used carefully, makes the page easier to read, as well as helping to emphasize stories.

    C. The most important news story gets the best placement--“above the fold"--and the largest headline.

    D. Using too many different fonts makes the layout look cluttered.

    E. Every picture/graphic should have a caption.

    F. Newspaper text is usually block- justified (lined up) on both sides.

    On your own, write a well-crafted essay on one of the following prompts. Answer it thoroughly in persuasive essay format, with a minimum of five paragraphs. Check your spelling, grammar, and syntax carefully. Work with your team to revise and edit one another’s work. When you are sure that you have an error-free, thorough answer to the question, prepare a typed or neatly written copy.

    • Was the War of 1812 truly a second war for independence? Why or why not?
    • Imagine that Great Britain had prevailed in the war. How might history have been different?

    This War of 1812 WebQuest will be a memorable lesson for your students.

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    This WebQuest comes from the author's many years of classroom teaching experience.

Wars in America

Explore the American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and American Civil War through this series of WebQuests on war in American.
  1. WebQuest for Wars in America
  2. War In America: American Revolution Webquest
  3. America at War: 1812
  4. War In America: American Civil War Webquest