Design a Figurehead
Have teams of students design a new figurehead that could be carved and mounted on Constitution and is worthy of her lifetime of service to America and its goals and vision for a free world. Explain that the designs must make specific references to Constitutions history. Teams might divide the different tasks among their members, including research, collecting visual images for inspiration, drafting the design drawings and presenting the concept to the class. Presentations must include an explanation of the symbols used in the design. Have the class critique all the designs and vote on the best one.
To help the class understand the symbolic importance of the figurehead, you might relate the following episode in Constitutions history to the class. First, have a volunteer read the handbill aloud, with feeling. Then, provide the background below
During Constitutions 1833 overhaul, Commandant Jesse D. Elliott ordered a figurehead of President Andrew Jackson for the ship. Bostonian Laban Beecher was commissioned to carve Jackson holding a scroll with the motto, The Constitution must be preserved. The President may have been pleased, but New Englanders were not. Politically unpopular with Bostonians, this westerners likeness upset many who believed it had no business gracing their Constitution. Beecher declined an offer of $1500 to allow someone to steal the figurehead from his shop. Instead it was installed, and Elliott ordered a guard to watch it, but to no avail. On a rainy night of July 2, 1834, Samuel Dewey rowed to Constitution, climbed aboard and sawed off the Jackson head. After showing the head to a group of friends and merchants, Dewey returned it, in person, to the Secretary of the Navy in Washington. Though the Secretary was irate, he could not punish Dewey. The mutilated figurehead was draped until the head was repaired. Later, it was replaced with an entirely new Jackson figurehead, which remained aboard until 1874.
For inspiration, you might share with the class the following passage about Constitution written by Commodore William Bainbridge:
Have on Hand- photocopies of the handbill and Commodore William Bainbridges passage about Constitution