Discipline is Essential for Smooth Operations

Discuss with your students: what are our classroom expectations? Why does a teacher establish classroom etiquette or rules? What are the goals of a classroom? Imagine you are a Captain aboard Constitution in charge of 480 sailors and Marines, working together towards a common goal. What rules would you establish as Captain?

Persuasive Writing
and Controversial Topics

Imagine you witnessed a close friend breaking the rules in the classroom. The teacher comes in, realizes someone has broken a rule and questions all the students in class. If you tell, your friend is punished. If you do not tell, everyone in the class is punished. Read the Sailor's Story of Moses Smith and the historic quotes from him and Captain Isaac Hull with students and ask, what would you do, and why?

Perspectives on Corporal Punishment

With older students, debate and discuss the history of corporal punishment. Define corporal punishment, that which is physical in nature, and discuss examples that students may have heard about regarding corporal punishment.

Artifacts and Info: Cat o' Nine Tails

Students may be interested in seeing the tool used for floggings. Study the image of this authentic cat o’ nine tails and ask them if they can see why it was called that.

A Flogging

"All hands on deck to witness punishment, ahoy!" This command from the Boatswain brings Constitution's entire crew to the middle of the ship to watch a flogging. This spectacle is a brutal but effective way to make sure the crew obeys orders. Those who don't are tied to the ship's rail, and whipped with nine knotted cords. Flogging is brutal. The lash lifts flesh off the victim's bare back, spraying it onto the deck and the nearest spectators.

Perspectives on Discipline

Flogging was very rare on board Constitution; it was a punishment that was not taken lightly. Explore with students the thoughts and considerations that may have influenced the severity of discipline with Two Perspectives – the Captain and the Offender, and the emotions that sailors are exhibiting on their faces in this scene. What are the ranges of their emotions? Allow students to create a collage, poem or another creative outlet that explores the emotion that they most identify with: horror, fear, sadness, anger, despair, support, indignation, misunderstanding, etc.