Today in World History: August 24th

The War of 1812, fought between the British Empire and the newly founded United States, continued on this day in 1814, as British troops broke through and invaded Washington D.C., setting the White House on fire. Under the presidency of James Madison, the first president to reside at the White House, tried to take control over the British colonies in Canada, specifically Ontario. Although the war would result in a status quo after two years, the war led to the beginning of Canada’s unity and pride, as local Canadian troops managed to deter the waves of American invaders. The war also led to the institution of Ottawa as the capital of Canada, as Toronto, the first choice, was too close to the border, while Ottawa’s position in the forests of Ontario would have led to the Americans getting lost. It also led to the Canadian populace’s increasing loyalty to the British Empire, which had proved itself capable and willing to protect them from the threat of the American invasion. Ultimately, however, Britain’s financial problems, along with the renewed threat of an American invasion, led Canada to leave the Empire, choosing to stay in the Commonwealth instead.

The burning of the White House, whiled helping to boost the moral of the British troops, was condemned by the American media, along with many continental European leaders. Most of Washington D.C. was burned to the ground, with the Americans hurrying to evacuate the city of any people and treasured artifacts and works of art. To this day, the British invasion of Washington D.C. is the only time when a foreign power occupied the American capital. The invasion of Washington has been speculated and declared by several major politicians and generals as retribution of the American invasion of York, capital of Upper Canada, today known as Toronto, the largest city in Canada.

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