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A View of the Capitol After the Conflagration of the 24th August 1814, engraved by William Strickland (White House History 35)

A View of the Capitol After the Conflagration of the 24th August 1814, engraved by William Strickland (White House History 35)

Artist
William Strickland, George Munger
Date of Work
1814
Medium
Engraving
Credit
Library of Congress

A View of the Capitol After the Conflagration of the 24th August 1814, engraved by William Strickland (White House History 35)

A View of the Capitol After the Conflagration of the 24th August 1814, engraved by William Strickland after a watercolor by George Munger, 1814.

Drawing shows the ruins of the U.S. Capitol following British attempts to burn the building; includes fire damage to the Senate and House wings, damaged colonnade in the House of Representatives shored up with firewood to prevent its collapse, and the shell of the rotunda with the facade and roof missing.

Historical context: George Munger's drawing, one of the most significant and compelling images of the early republic, reminds us how short-lived the history of the United States might have been. In the evening hours of August 24, 1814, during the second year of the War of 1812, British expeditionary forces under the command of Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cockburn and Major General Robert Ross set fire to the unfinished Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. All the public buildings in the developing city, except the Patent Office Building, were put to the torch in retaliation for what the British perceived as excessive destruction by American forces the year before in York, capital of upper Canada. At the time of the British invasion, the unfinished Capitol building comprised two wings connected by a wooden causeway. This exceptional drawing, having descended in the Munger family, was purchased by the Library of Congress at the same time the White House purchased the companion view of the President's House.