Many students of American history read about the War of 1812 as part of their studies of Nineteenth Century history. This naval war impacted the burgeoning United States and the port cities along the East Coast, as well as cities inland, along major waterways.
This year, Baltimore, Maryland is the focus of the national launch of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 with the Star-Spangled Sailabration from June 13-19, 2012. This kickoff celebration begins in Baltimore Harbor where visitors can see a spectacular display of U.S., British and Canadian naval vessels and tall ships from around the world. Audiences will also see an air show featuring the Blue Angels.
Teachers and trip leaders are encouraged to combine a visit to Washington D.C. with a visit to Baltimore to experience the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Even if the student group is not available to travel from June 13-19, they may still experience part of the Bicentennial celebration. Baltimore and other cities throughout the U.S and Canada affected by the War of 1812 will continue to stage events dedicated to the remembrance of the War of 1812 through 2014.
Following is a brief outline of the six major sites in Baltimore and Washington D.C. that reinforce studies of the War of 1812. In addition to Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. other states participating in this event are: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Student travel groups destined for any of these locations can also tie their trip into War of 1812 sites in these locations.
Baltimore, Maryland, War of 1812 Sites of Interest
Many Americans and representatives felt an attack on Baltimore was imminent after a declaration of war against the British. So, Fort McHenry was prepared with fortifications and soldiers to defend the city against the British. This site is well-preserved and maintained by the National Park Service. Fort McHenry is known as the star fort, because it was constructed in the shape of a five-pointed star. The fort was attacked by British cannon fire and survived the battle.
The Star Spangled Banner Flag House
Students will want to tour the house where Mary Pickersgill sewed the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the battle of 1814, when the Fort was under assault by the British. Pickersgill lived here with her daughter Caroline and her mother, Rebecca Young, who started the flag-making business during the Revolutionary War period in Philadelphia. Student groups can tour the home that is decorated with 19th century furniture and fixtures. Frequent living history presentations are also staged here, so students may encounter Mary Pickersgill, Rebecca Young or Grace Wisher, the African-American apprentice who lived and worked there. These living history actresses will narrate their story in the first person to help make the process of creating the flag come alive.
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
Students can see a special exhibition for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 here: “Farmers, Patriots and Traitors: Southern Maryland and the War of 1812.” At the time of the War of 1812, the U.S. had no organized naval fleet. So, in June of 1814, Commodore Joshua Barney pulled together a fleet of eighteen gun boats, barges and sloops to take on the British Navy. This unofficial fleet of ships engaged in battle with the British Navy twice in June of 1814. The battles took place at the intersection of the Patuxent River and St. Leonard Creek, near the shores of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum. They are known as the largest naval engagement in the history of Maryland, and helped turned the tides of the War of 1812 in favor of the U.S.
Washington, D.C. War of 1812 Sites of Interest
Students can see the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem in the The Star- Spangled Banner exhibition at the National Museum of American History. The flag is 200 years old and measures 30 x 34 feet. It is housed in an environmentally controlled chamber to preserve it and visitors can interact with the artifact through a tactile image.
Student groups may visit the White House as part of their scheduled tour. James Madison was President of the United States when he asked Congress to declare war on June 1, 1812. Teachers can prepare classes for this study by taking an in-depth look at Madison’s presidency, and his reasons for going to war, prior to the trip.
In addition to these War of 1812 sites, student groups can learn more about other historical periods by visiting the Baltimore and/or Washington D.C. area. Popular destinations include the U.S. Capitol Building, the monuments tour, Mount Vernon and more. Check the events schedule on The Official war of 1812 Bicentennial Website to see if a student trip schedule will coincide with other public events.
To request a quote for a class trip to Baltimore and Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.