Historians explain that the war was a response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier.
Marking the first war America declared on another nation, the war was opposed by a large minority in Congress. It lasted 2 years and 8 months.
Words of Wisdom
Although the burning of Washington, D.C. transpired long after George Washington’s death, the first president played an important role. Dolley Madison chose to rescue his portrait from the White House just before the building went up in flames. August 24, 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington and Dolley Madison's heroic effort to save the celebrated painting.
The Burning of Washington—one of the most note-worthy episodes of the War of 1812—took place 200 years ago, on August 24, 1814. After capturing the capital city, the British famously burned many of its most important buildings, including the White House.
Although the Burning of Washington transpired long after George Washington’s death, the first president played an important part; Dolley Madison chose to rescue his portrait from the White House just before the building went up in flames. The surviving painting, known as Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne Portrait, is one of the most iconic representations of Washington known today.
Rescuing the painting was no simple feat. The eight-foot tall portrait was bolted to the wall of the dining room, making it difficult to move or transport. After the American forces announced their retreat from their position at Bladensburg, Maryland, Charles Carroll rushed to the White House to hurry the first lady to safety. Learn more here.