Wednesday, May 8

We Were There with Jean Lafitte at New Orleans

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How did a French pirate help to defeat the British in the War of 1812?

In the early 1800s, Jean and Pierre Lafitte operated a smuggling operation out of Barataria, near New Orleans.  For several years, they made a lot of money through both smuggling and piracy.  In September of 1814, the US Navy invaded their base of operations and captured their fleet.

Shortly after, in exchange for a pardon (for the charges of smuggling), Lafitte and his crew helped General Andrew Jackson defend the area from the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the final battle in the War of 1812.

Most likely, these men contributed to the effort with geographical information about the local land and waters, as well as helping to communicate between the troops.

Virtual Field Trip
At the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport, we got to see battle gear!  The boys are all about weapons and war right now (old enough to think it's cool; young enough to still be innocent), so they got really interested in the Battle of New Orleans and the War of 1812 after seeing these exhibits.

The War of 1812 was America's "second war for independence."  It was only with the assistance of the pirate Jean Lafitte that Andrew Jackson and his troops held off the British during this important battle.  Since then, he has been known as "the pirate & patriot Jean Lafitte." At the museum, we saw swords, money, uniform hats, and other artifacts leftover from this battle.

Read
Make / Do
Watch
Define / Identify
  • patriotism
  • dissent
  • smuggling
  • authority
  • governance
  • Barataria
  • New Orleans
  • Andrew Jackson
  • impressment
  • blockade
  • embargo
  • War Hawks
  • stalemate
  • Treaty of Ghent
Think
  • How might the borders of North America look if the War of 1812 had ended differently?
  • Was Jean Lafitte a national hero or a pirate outlaw?  Why?
Resources for Younger Children
Check out all of our We Were There unit studies!

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