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On this day in 1814, the British began burning Washington D.C. during the War of 1812

August 24, 2022

On this day in 1814, the British began burning Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812. The event was arguably the most devastating blow to American morale during the war, as important landmarks such as the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building (which contained the Library of Congress) were substantially destroyed or damaged by the blaze. 🏚🔥

It was before this attack that First Lady Dolley Madison famously saved a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington while fleeing the White House.

Did you know? The blazes were extinguished by a violent thunderstorm (it may have even been a hurricane) that hit the city the following day.

The “storm that saved Washington” was both a help and a hindrance, putting out the fires, but also causing further destruction to a city already ravaged. ⛈💨🔥 Perhaps most bizarrely, the storm included a tornado, which traveled towards Capitol Hill, tossing cannons into the air. 🌪🌪🌪

An exchange between a British admiral and local resident was reported thusly:

British admiral: “Great God, Madam! Is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?”
Resident: “No, Sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from our city.”
British admiral: “Not so Madam. It is rather to aid your enemies in the destruction of your city.”


August 24, 2022
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