The Capital Captured

Every American heart is bursting with shame and indignation at the catastrophe.

—Baltimore resident describing the burning of Washington, 1814

Angered by British interference with American trade, the young United States was intent on reaffirming its recently won independence. Instead, a series of defeats left Americans anxious and demoralized. They were stunned when, on August 24, 1814, British troops marched into Washington, D.C., and set the Capitol building and White House ablaze.

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Why was August 24, 1814 such a shocking day for the American people?

  • The American Navy won a great victory on Lake Erie
  • British troops burned down the Capitol building and the White House
  • President James Madison was assassinated


How to Use This Resource in Your Classroom

  • British Capture Washington

    British Capture Washington

    “Capture of the City of Washington”, Based on an engraving from Rapin’s History of England, published by J. & J. Gundee, Albion Press, London, 1815.

  • White House Burned

    White House Burned

    White House timber charred by the fire of 1814.

British Capture Washington White House Burned