9.10.2014

Editorial re: the burning of Washington


10 September 1814

Editorial in Niles Weekly Register re: the burning of Washington:

“The hate with which we have always said Great Britain regarded us, is now exhibiting by a Goth-like war, which the late strange events in Europe enables her to carry on with extraordinary force and energy. The barriers, with which civilized nations have circumscribed their military operations, are cast down by the foe; and the contest, begun for unalienable rights on the sea, is becoming a struggle for liberty and property on the land. The shores of the Chesapeake are lighted by the flames of farm houses and cottages, hitherto respected in war; and the fruits of the earth are wantonly consumed by the invader’s torch. Whatever of private property pleases him, he lays hold of as a prize; and wickedly destroys what he cannot carry away.

Household furniture has been a favorite object of his vengeance, and negroes and tobacco are his darling spoils! His late capture of Washington City is an honor to the valor of his soldiery; but his conduct in burning the capital, the president’s house and the public offices, is a disgrace that he will not wipe away more easily than we shall…..the capitals of the greatest empires and kingdoms of the old world were frequently captured by the contending parties, in the late wars. The outlaw, Bonaparte entered Lisbon, Madrid, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, …and the capitals of ten or fifteen of the minor states of Europe, but never, in the case of the Kremlin excepted, destroyed  a public building undevoted to military purposes; and that was not demolished until it was evident that the people of Moscow would themselves destroy the city…….”

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