On this day in 1814, during the War of 1812, British troops invade Washington, D.C. In the evening, they burn the executive mansion, now known as the White House.
In June of 1812, Americans burned Canadian government buildings in York, Ontario, Canada. Seeking revenge, the British set fire to other buildings in Washington, D.C. These included the still uncompleted Capitol building, the House of Representatives, and the Library of Congress. Thankfully, perhaps providentially from “the invisible hand” “of the Great Disposer of Events,” a major storm, possibly a hurricane, put out the fires. The storm also spawned a couple tornados, and drove the British out of the capital city on damaged boats.
President James Madison and first lady Dolley were already safely in Maryland, though just barely.
Prior to the invasion, President Madison briefly took command of an American Battery at the Battle of Bladensburg. As a result, Madison is first and only president to exercise his authority as commander in chief in actual battle.
Meanwhile, back at the White House, with British troops gathering in the distance, Dolley “had [a wagon] filled with the plate and most valuable portable articles belonging to the house.”
She also saved what she believed to be the original Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington.
She “ordered the frame to be broken, and the canvass taken out it is done, and the precious portrait placed in the hands of two gentlemen of New York, for safe keeping.”
Ultimately, it turned out to be just a copy.
We think Our George Washington “Invisible Hand” shirt is worth saving. Click the link below to get your ‘copy.’
Interestingly, in Proclamation 20 – Recommending a Day of Public Thanksgiving for Peace on March 4, 1815, President Madison seemed inspired the George Washington quote on the shirt:
“No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the destiny of Nations than the people of the United States.”
Here is the Washington quote from his Inaugural Address on April 30, 1789:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”
Even so, the sentiment is powerful and worth repurposing for posterity!