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Resolution that a Committee be Appointed to Inquire Into the Causes of the Successes of the Enemy, September 23, 1814

Congress reconvened on September 19, 1814, called into an early session by President James Madison. With the Capitol destroyed, the senators and representatives crowded into the Patent Office, the only government building not burned by the British. The House promptly passed a resolution appointing a committee to report on the causes and results of Britain’s successful attack.

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

Resolution that a Committee be Appointed to Inquire Into the Causes of the Successes of the Enemy, September 23, 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.”