Perhaps no other single day in U.S. history was as threatening to the survival of the nation as August 24, 1814, when British forces captured Washington, D.C. This unique moment significantly altered the nation’s path forward, but the event and the reasons behind it are little remembered by most Americans.
Join historian Robert P. Watson of Lynn University as he examines the British campaign and American missteps that led to the fall of Washington during the War of 1812. He analyzes the actions of key figures on both sides, such as President James Madison and General William Winder and Britain’s Rear Admiral George Cockburn and Major General Robert Ross.
Watson pinpoints the reasons the campaign was such a disaster for the United States and also covers the stories of the courageous young clerks and the bold first lady, Dolley Madison, who risked their lives to save priceless artifacts and documents, including the Constitution, from the flames. The British invasion was repulsed over the following weeks and months, and the United States ultimately emerged stronger.
Watson’s book When Washington Burned: The British Invasion of the Capital and a Nation's Rise from the Ashes (Georgetown University Press) is available for purchase and signing.