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

With many officials away, a few congressional clerks attempted to save records of Congress. S. Burch and J.T. Frost, having only an ox cart at their disposal, had to abandon many House records—including the Secret Journal of Congress, which was destroyed in the fire. Lewis H. Machen rescued one wagonload of Senate records, including its confidential proceedings.

Excerpt:

On the 21st the first of the undersigned Clerks was furloughed . . . for the purpose of returning to the City to take care of, and save such part of the Books and papers of the Clerks office as he might be able to effect in case the Enemy should get possession of the place

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

War of 1812: Congress Investigates

On August 24, 1814, under the command of General Robert Ross and Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, British troops took control of the capital and proceeded to burn the President’s House and the Capitol, including the Library of Congress. Embarrassed and furious over the circumstances, Congress began an investigation to determine how the British were able to capture the city. On November 29, 1814, the House of Representatives issued its report, which was inconclusive. There was no further investigation.