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The U.S. Capitol after Burning by the British, by George Munger, ca. 1814

Artist George Munger documented the ruins of the U.S. Capitol shortly after the British burned it. His watercolor drawing shows the sooty walls of the House and Senate wings and the brick shell of the gutted vestibule.

 

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

The U.S. Capitol after Burning by the British, by George Munger, ca. 1814

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, the Capitol (including the Library of Congress), the Navy Yard, and American warships. 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.