Burning of Washington DC

November 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm 4 comments

On August 24, 1814, the British overcame the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg.  This was a relatively small battle and didn’t make a big difference in the war of 1812.  The danger of it was that in losing this battle, the Americans provided the British with an open road to America’s capital, Washington DC.  As the British closed in on Washington DC, their intentions became clear.  Their plan was to raid it and burn it to the ground, supposedly to teach the Americans a lesson on their retaliation.  The command given to Rear Admiral George Cockburn by Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane said that to “deter the enemy from a repetition of similar outrages…You are hereby required and directed to destroy and lay waste such towns and districts as you may find assailable.”  Also, Cochrane stated that “you will spare merely the lives of the unarmed inhabitants of the United States.”  With word of the British coming, the American people fled.  As the British raided Washington DC, burning government buildings such as the White House, the United States Treasury, and the Capitol, they hoped that it would kill the hopes of the Americans and embarrass the nation as a whole.  Much to their dismay, the burning of the nation’s capital only increased the sense of patriotism in the Americans.  Many who once sided with the British saw the wrong they had done to America and sided with the Americans.  In the end, the Americans never lost hope and ended the war with a strong pride they never before had.

            After the British left Washington DC, the People who fled before returned to a burned city.  There was much controversy throughout the nation whether or not they should relocate the capital.  Philadelphia was quick to offer but Congress rejected it.  They began to rebuild the city in 1815.  The reconstruction focused on the Capitol and the White House.  The Capitol was completed in 1819 and the White House was finished in time for James Monroe’s inauguration of 1817.  The reconstruction needed to be completed hastily before more conflict about moving the capital of America could come up.  Not much was changed in the process.  Of course there is always going to be improvements that come with the time but the focus was mainly on getting it done so that the nation could return to its original ways.  The Burning of the White House was partially good and partially bad.  It was good because it increased the patriotism of the people, and turned many to support the Americans due to the British’s unfair actions.  However, if the Americans had succeeded in stopping the British from reaching Washington DC, though it may have still increased their patriotism due to the victory, there would have been no need to rebuild any of it and many historical documents would be here today to give us even more history on our country.  The burning of Washington DC was a big turning point in the War of 1812.  It affected our nation greatly, therefore it will never be forgotten.

Sources:

http://.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Washington

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/washingtonsack.htm

 

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The Burning of Washington Napoleon

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. monguinhandel  |  November 7, 2013 at 11:55 am

    why did congress reject the capitol in Philadelphia?

    Reply
  • 2. ieramos  |  November 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    ya that’s a great question why did we not want the capital in Philadelphia?

    Reply
  • 3. vebramos  |  November 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Personally i think that the capitol should have been New York.

    Reply
  • 4. dwood07022013  |  November 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I researched the answer to your question and there was no answer specifically. I would say that they simply wanted to keep the capital the same in order to keep stability in the country instead of moving it again as they had already done twice before. The relocating of a nations capital is a very big deal as expected.

    Reply

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