Has the White House ever been attacked?

John Riley, Director of Education at the White House Historical Association in Washington, D.C., describes how the British attacked the White House during the War of 1812 and how First Lady Dolley Madison helped save the White House treasures.

War of 1812 and White House


War of 1812. The War of 1812 was in many ways the strangest war in United States history. It could well be named the War of Faulty Communication.


A British Army, under General Robert Ross, was escorted by a fleet to Chesapeake Bay, scattered the United States troops at the Battle of Bladensburg, occupied Washington, D.C., and set fire to the Capitol, the White House, and other public buildings. White House was burned to ground. President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, were forced to flee. Before First Lady Dolley Madison left the White House, she helped save some papers and a Washinton portrait, which is still hanging in the white house. The White House was rebuilt and President and Mrs. James Monroe moved into it in 1817. The north and south porticos were added in the 1820's.


This engagement inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner".


For more information about the White House, visit World Book Online Encyclopedia.


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