Courage | Freedom | Strength | Success | Unity

President Madison’s declaration of war against Great Britain in 1812 was not popular with many Americans, especially when the first year of conflict brought a series of shattering American defeats. New England was in a virtual state of secession; the governor of Vermont ordered the state militia to resign from national service; and in Massachusetts there was talk of negotiating a separate peace with the enemy. After threatening to for a year, the British actually attacked the capital in August of 1814. While President Madison rode out to the battlefield in an attempt to instill confidence in the untrained troops, the citizens of Washington streamed out of the city into Virginia. Even the militia assigned to protect the White House deserted their posts. But First Lady Dolly Madison refused to budge. Before the White House was burned, Dolly saved her husband’s papers, a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a valuable portrait of George Washington. She would leave only…

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