Intermediate Level Lessons | Dissent

Paintbrushes45.png Intermediate
Two class periods

Program Segments
June 1812 Declaration of War (6 minutes)  

NCSS Themes 

V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
VI: Power, Authority, and Governance 

Canadian (Ontario) Concepts

Interactions and Interdependence
Power and Governance 

Canadian (Ontario) Specific Expectations – Seventh Grade

Describe the impact of the War of 1812 on the development of Canada
Explain key characteristics of life in English Canada from a variety of perspectives 

Students will be able to:

  • understand how different experiences, beliefs, values, traditions, and motives cause individuals and groups to interperet historic events and issues from different perspectives  
  • describe the reasons for and against dissent during a time of war

Focus Questions

When you disagree with your government during a time of war, are you unpatriotic?
What is the best way to express dissent?     

Key Concepts
War Hawks, Protest, Neutrality, Hartford Convention, Secession 

Instructional Resources

The War of 1812 DVD
Poster Board
Construction Paper
Markers, colored pencils, or crayons
Glue stick
Icon Protest Images (160.4 KB)


  1. The teacher will discuss the focus questions and the term “dissent.”  The discussion should address the reasons for entering the War of 1812 and what reasons the Federalists and New Englanders had to disagree with that decision.
  2. The students will view The War of 1812, especially the segment on dissent and the Hartford Convention.
  3. After viewing the program, the students will be split into discussion groups of 4-5. The students will discuss this quote: “What happened to Alexander Hanson was a lesson in how you should not subdue dissent even in the time of warfare because a mob can get out of control and destroy the very values you are trying to uphold”.
  4. The students will interpret what they believe the quote means while listing the pros and cons that occur when citizens oppose the policies of the government during a time of war.
  5. Students will present what they have discussed to the group. Their ideas should be recorded on an overhead projector or on a smartboard so that the entire class can see the results. The teacher will facilitate this process and allow individual students the opportunity to express their opinion on the topics.
  6. The teacher may want to consider leading a discussion of dissent among the British and Irish immigrants to the Canadian territories. The teacher can compare the Federalists of the Northeast to the Irish colonists who dissented for different reasons. Those who inhabited the Canadian territory did not all agree with the actions of the British government. Irish immigrants, many of them Catholics who had fled Britain after its suppression of the rebellion of 1798, did not agree with the actions of the British Monarchy. Many Irish sympathized with the Americans and were a significant source of active dissent.
  7. After a debriefing, the teacher will show examples of wartime posters and slogans. The teacher will explain that protestors use different slogans and pictures to express their point of view.
  8. The students will choose a reason why the war was opposed by New Englanders and individually create a poster that explains that reason. The poster can be a slogan, a picture, or an argument.
  9. The students should be provided with the opportunity to present their posters to the class and explain what has been depicted in the poster and how it relates to dissent during the War of 1812.
  10. If time allows the teacher may choose to have both points of view depicted by splitting the class and allowing the students to choose a pro-war or anti-war poster. This can be extended into a mock protest rally/debate that is attended by both sides. 

Assessment Tasks
The students will create a poster that depicts one reason why the Federalists/New Englanders did not agree with the decision to enter the War of 1812. 

Related PBS Resources

Chicago 10: Dissent in Democracy
Examine the role of dissent in American democracy through this study of the 1968 Democratic Convention and the "Chicago 10." Explore the many forms of protest from America's recent turbulent past to contemporary manifestations of dissent.
Chicago 10: Media Literacy
Deconstruct the explosion of images and sounds that erupted from the 1968 Democratic Convention. Explore and evaluate the role of the media in our perceptions and reactions regarding the protests staged by the "Chicago 10."
Strange Fruit: Protest Music
Explore American protest songs and songwriters whose words and music served as catalysts for thought, action and social change. Listen to audio clips while exploring the lyrics and backgrounds of songs from eight eras of U.S. history.


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Icon Dissent Lesson Plan (334.8 KB)

Program Segment for Lesson Plan

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Hartford Convention political cartoon

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