American Portraits

Andrew Jackson’s Courageous Decision at New Orleans

In this lesson, students will learn about the courageous actions Andrew Jackson took during the Battle of New Orleans. Students will learn how courage shaped Jackson’s life and see how imperative it was to his success. Students will also learn how being courageous can positively affect their own identity and purpose.

Founding Principles

Individual Responsibility image

Individual Responsibility

Individuals must take care of themselves and their families and be vigilant to preserve their liberty.

Narrative

Andrew Jackson was born on the American frontier in 1767 to Scots-Irish immigrants. Life on the frontier was harsh. The families who called this region home worked for everything they had. Combatting weather, disease, tense relations with native tribes, and the danger of everyday chores, accidents and tragedy were common. Andrew Jackson lost his father to one such accident three weeks before he was born, leaving him to be raised by his mother alone….

Narrative PDF

Compelling Question

How can Andrew Jackson’s courageous decision to attack at New Orleans inspire you in your own decision making?

Virtue Defined

Courage is the capacity to overcome fear in order to do good.

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will learn about the courageous actions Andrew Jackson took during the Battle of New Orleans. Students will learn how courage shaped Jackson’s life and see how imperative it was to his success. Students will also learn how being courageous can positively affect their own identity and purpose.

Objectives

  • Students will analyze Andrew Jackson’s decisions during the Battle of New Orleans and the actions he took throughout his life
  • Students will understand how they can make courageous decisions
  • Students will apply their knowledge of courage to decision making in their own lives

Background

The United States won its independence in 1783, but challenges for the young republic were only beginning. The major powers of Europe, primarily England and France, were constantly challenging the sovereignty of the United States. By 1812, these challenges had become so outrageous that the United States felt it had to do something. The British had waged a nearly continuous war with the French since 1792. Their strategy was to isolate France by blockading her ports from the North Atlantic and English Channel, all the way to the Mediterranean. This meant trade restrictions on the United States. It also led to the seizure of American ships and the impressment of American sailors in the British navy.

Additionally, the British failed to evacuate several forts it had pledged it would in the treaty signed after the Revolutionary War. Finally, many Americans believed that the British were inciting Native American tribes to violence in order to limit American westward expansion. The United States declared war in June of 1812, and what followed were several years of sporadic conflict.

Vocabulary

  • Sovereignty
  • Outrageous
  • Impressment
  • Sporadic
  • Relentless
  • Captivity
  • Simultaneous
  • Stalemate
  • Lucrative
  • Napoleonic Wars
  • Illusion
  • Motley

Introduce Text

Have students read the background and narrative, keeping the Compelling Question in mind as they read. Then have them answer the remaining questions below.

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Questions

Walk-In-The-Shoes Questions
As you read, imagine you are the protagonist.

  • What challenges are you facing?
  • What fears or concerns might you have?
  • What may prevent you from acting in the way you ought?

Observation Questions

  • Who was Andrew Jackson?
  • What about Andrew Jackson’s decisions during the Battle of New Orleans are considered courageous?
  • What do Andrew Jackson’s decisions say about his identity?

Discussion Questions
Discuss the following questions with your students.

  • What is the historical context of the narrative?
  • What historical circumstances presented a challenge to the protagonist?
  • How and why did the individual exhibit a moral and/or civic virtue in facing and overcoming the challenge?
  • How did the exercise of the virtue benefit civil society?
  • How might exercise of the virtue benefit the protagonist?
  • What might the exercise of the virtue cost the protagonist?
  • Would you react the same under similar circumstances? Why or why not?
  • How can you act similarly in your own life? What obstacles must you overcome in order to do so?

Additional Resources

  • Remini, Robert V. (1999), The Battle of New Orleans, New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc., ISBN 0-670-88551-7
  • Remini, Robert V. (1977), Andrew Jackson and the course of American empire, 1767-1821, New York: Harper & Row, ISBN 0-06-013574-3
  • “Andrew Jackson.” http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/andrew-jackson

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