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President James Madison’s letter to the Senate regarding the temporary accommodations of Congress, September 17, 1814

To ensure the operation of the federal government after the Capitol was destroyed, President James Madison quickly appropriated for Congress the only public building that had escaped attack—the Patent and Post Office building, called Blodgett’s Hotel. Congress convened there from September 1814 until December 1815, when it moved to a temporary building where today’s Supreme Court stands.

The destruction of the Capitol by the Enemy having made it necessary that other accomodations [sic] should be provided for the meeting of Congress, chambers for the Senate and for the House of Representatives…have been fitted up…in the Public Building heretofore allotted for the Post and other Public Offices.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

President James Madison’s letter to the Senate regarding the temporary accommodations of Congress, September 17, 1814 The destruction of the Capitol by the Enemy having made it necessary that other accomodations [sic] should be provided for the meeting of Congress, chambers for the Senate and for the House of Representatives…have been fitted up…in the Public Building heretofore allotted for the Post and other Public Offices.

The British Burn Washington

On August 24, 1814, British forces entered Washington, D.C., attacked the Navy Yard, and burned the major federal buildings: the U.S. Capitol, President’s House, War Department, and Treasury. The Capitol fire destroyed the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court, along with irreplaceable records. Congress reconvened in the only remaining public building, the Patent Office, which President James Madison secured as its temporary quarters. In March 1815 Congress authorized the rebuilding of the Capitol and President’s House.