In the exhibit Résonances Créoles/Creole Echoes, the section entitled Two Foundation Myths presents two events that were important for the way Creole New Orleans thought about itself: the 1768 revolt by French colonists against Spanish rule, and the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. This lesson will both introduce students to these two important moments in Louisiana history, and will encourage students to discover how such events mean different things for different people.

•Students will use the Internet, encyclopedias, and other library resources to discover basic facts about the Battle of New Orleans and the 1768 revolt by French colonists in Spanish Louisiana.
•Students will examine images and text from the exhibit to discover how writers use historical events for certain purposes.
•Students will then critically examine two website that give information on Andrew Jackson. They will learn examine the source of information on the internet and in other media.
•Students will write a poem, short story or essay from the point of view of a participant in the Battle of New Orleans. They will compare their writing and discover similarities and differences in these perspectives.

Necessary Materials
Access to Internee and other reference materials. Art, musical or other materials according to the individual student’s creative project (Activity 4).

Teaching Procedure

Activity 1: Research Questions
Answer the following questions using information found on the Internee or in encyclopedia’s or other reference books:
The transfer of Louisiana from France to Spain:
a) When did Louisiana become a Spanish Colony?
b) What were the names of the first three Spanish governor of Louisiana?
c) Were the people of Louisiana happy about the change from French to Spanish rule?
d) Why did governor O’Reilly execute the leaders of the revolt?

The Battle of New Orleans:
a) When was the Battle of New Orleans?
b) What was the name of the general who led the American forces in this battle?
c) What group of soldiers played the most important role in the American victory?
d) Was Andrew Jackson a hero to New Orleanians after the battle?
Questions “c” and “d” in each of these sets of questions will be answered differently by each student. Discuss the different results, asking what evidence students have to support their answer. Is there one right answer? Are there wrong answers? Which sources lead to certain conclusions? What kinds of sources did students use in finding answers to these questions?

Activity 2: Examining Exhibit Items--a Discussion
The section of the exhibit entitled Two Foundation Myths presents several representations of the two important events that we are examining. After reading the section with the class, ask students to critically examine the images, plays and books. Questions for discussion: Why is Andrew Jackson painted in this way? What does the image of O’Reilly say about him, or about the person who made the image? Why would someone write a play in French in Louisiana called “Les Martyrs de la Louisiane?” What does the text say about why these events were important to Creoles in Louisiana? What is a “foundation myth”? Can you think of any foundation myths that we have today?

Activity 3: Andrew Jackson on the Internet.
The following two web sites present very different views of Andrew Jackson, the American general at the Battle of New Orleans:

All Things Cherokee

The Hermitage

Encourage students to examine these two web sites. Questions for discussion: what does The Hermitage website say about Andrew Jackson? How is the All Things Cherokee website different? Why did the people who made each of these websites write about Jackson in the way that they did? Do other web sites offer different opinions about Jackson? What do you think about Andrew Jackson?

Activity 4: Making History
Many different people fought in the battle of New Orleans: White and Black, Free and Slave, Native Americans, Creoles, Americans, and British. Each student will pick a personality from the list below and then creatively react to the events of the battle from this person’s perspective. They may choose to write a poem, play, or essay, paint or draw, write a song, or make a web site from the point of view of their personality (if there are not enough to go around either invent more personalities or allow more than one student to choose each personality):

Major Pierre Jugeant, a part-Choctaw scout for the Americans
Jean Laffite, Leader of the pirates from Barataria
Guillaume, one of Jean Laffite’s men
Paul, an American soldier from Kentucky
James, A young British soldier
Ann, James’ mother.
Andrew Jackson
Rachel Donelson, Andrew Jackson’s wife
Edmond, A young white Creole merchant from New Orleans and soldier for the Americans.
Edith, a slave on a plantation near the battlefield.
Armand, a free black soldier and carpenter from New Orleans
Sister Marie-Louise, a nun from New Orleans who nursed injured soldiers
Monsieur Emile DuParc, A wealthy slaveholder and soldier.
Sir Edward Pakenham, Major General of the British forces.
Major Gabriel Villeré, commander of the Louisiana Militia.
Madame Villeré, his wife.
Susan, a part-Cherokee student from Oklahoma researching her family’s heritage
Brad, a descendant of Andrew Jackson researching his family’s heritage.

Allow students to share their creative work and discuss the differences and similarities in their projects. Discussion questions: Was it difficult to react to the battle from the point of view of your character? If so why? How are the projects different? How are they similar? How would your project be different if you had chosen someone else?

Related Web Sites

Louisiana State Museum lesson plan for the Battle of New Orleans

The Battle of New Orleans. By Wilson A. Greene

Letter. Andrew Jackson to the Secretary of War. 19 Janurary, 1815.

Jimmy Driftwood's Song: "The Battle of New Orleans"

Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery. Chalmette, Louisiana

The Governors of Louisiana