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Letter to Patrick Magruder, Clerk of the House of Representatives, from S. Burch and J.T. Frost, September 15, 1814

In their letter to Magruder, clerks S. Burch and J.T. Frost gave an account of their difficulties in attempting to save the records of the House of Representatives. Nearly every available vehicle had been pressed into service, and only one ox cart could be found to save the most important House documents. Many records, including the Secret Journal of Congress, were lost in the fire.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Letter to Patrick Magruder, Clerk of the House of Representatives, from S. Burch and J.T. Frost, September 15, 1814

The Burning of the Capitol, 1814

In 1812, the United States went to war with Great Britain. On the evening of August 24, 1814, British troops entered a largely abandoned Washington and set fire to many government buildings, including the Capitol. The following month, Congress returned to the city and ordered an investigation “. . . into the causes of the success of the Enemy.”