Nic will probably be one of the first to tell you that I often complain about how little seems to happen in Canada’s history – making for some very boring study material. But that’s not a very fair criticism, after all we’re neighbours to the Americans, and those guys can’t seem to go five years without getting into it with someone.
However, if you were to go back to August 24, 1814, Washington D.C. was being set ablaze by British troops in retaliation for the burning and looting of York (now Toronto) a year earlier at the Battle of York.
Known as the “the Burning of Washington,” this incident was considered both the low point of the War of 1812, cited by some historians as the reason for the assault, and the Presidency of James Madison who was president at the time.
During this attack the White House and the U.S. Capitol were largely destroyed.
The buildings housing the Senate and the House of Representatives were also set ablaze, with their interiors and the Library of Congress being destroyed as a result.
But thanks to the thick walls and a torrential downpour their exteriors were saved, and the library later replaced when Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to the government to restock the congressional library.
Interestingly less than a day after the attack began a tornado suddenly formed and passed through part of the city killing British troops and American civilians alike while putting out most of the fires. And pretty much the only reason that the British troops were forced back to their ships before any actual occupation of the capital could begin.