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The War of 1812 is an important part of American history, and of particular importance to the Washington metropolitan region. The events leading up to the burning of the White House during the War of 1812 have been well chronicled. Eyewitness accounts and recollections by American and British soldiers, sailors, and civilians have helped bring to light this humiliating episode of America's second war with Great Britain. Among the most celebrated events of the war was the saving of George Washington's portrait by Dolley Madison before the White House was burned on August 24, 1814.

Forged by Fire: Dolley Madison, the White House, and the War of 1812, helps students discover the impact of the War of 1812 in Washington, D.C. with a special focus on the White House and Dolley Madison's famed flight. Each student will step back in time and research and play the role of an historic figure in Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812 as part of a costumed reenactment. In conclusion to the program, each class receives a DVD of their filmed production.

During the program students will also tour historic Decatur House, the first private residence on Lafayette Square built by War of 1812 naval war hero Stephen Decatur in 1818.

Program Objectives:

After completing the Forged by Fire program, students will be better able to:

  1. Identify and explain the causes of the War of 1812
  2. Categorize key War of 1812 events chronologically
  3. Describe the regional differences that divided the United States before and during the war
  4. Explain the historical impact of the War of 1812 from a local and national standpoint
  5. Distinguish different historical points of view on the same issue

Program Logistics:

  • Takes place at the historic Decatur House, located at 1610 H Street NW.
  • Free of charge
  • 2.5-3 hour experience