This Day in American History...

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Posted: Aug 24, 2009 4:05 PM
On this day in 1814, the British attacked the city of Washington, DC and set fire to the White House, destroying the interior and charring much of the building's exterior.  During the Burning of Washington in the midst of the War of 1812, then-First Lady Dolly Madison stayed in the White House after government officials--and even her own bodyguards--had fled.  The First Lady rushed to gather important documents, valuables and rescued a full-length portrait painting of President George Washington. 

She was finally persuaded to leave the mansion, just moments before British soldiers entered the building.  Inside, the soldiers found the dining hall set for a dinner for 40 people and, after eating all the food and collecting personal souvenirs, they set the building on fire.