Washington Sept 8, 1814
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas the enemy by a sudden incursion have succeeded in invading the capital of the nation, defended at the moment by troops less numerous than their own, and almost entirely of the militia; during the possession of which, though for a single day only, they wantonly destroyed the public edifices having no relation in their structure to operations of war, nor used that the time for military annoyance; some of these edifices being also costly monuments of taste and of the arts, & others depositories of the public archives, not only precious to the nation as the memorials of its origin and its early transactions, but interesting to all nations , as contributions to the general stock of historical instruction and political science.
And whereas, advantage has been taken of the loss of a fort, more immediately guarding the neighbouring town of Alexandria, to place the town within the range of a naval force….
And whereas, it now appears, by a direct communication from the British commander on the American station, to be his avowed purpose to employ the force under his direction “in destroying and laying waste such towns and districts upon the coast as may be found assailable”…
Now therefore, I, James Madison, President of the United States, do issue this my proclamation, exhorting all the good people thereof, to unite their hearts and hands in giving effect to the ample means possessed for that purpose. I enjoin to on all officers, civil and military, to exert themselves in executing (their) duties…..
On an occasion which appeals so forcibly to the proud feelings and patriotic devotion of the American people, none will forget what they owe to themselves; what they owe to their country and the high destinies which await it; what to the glory acquired by their fathers in establishing the independence which is now to be maintained by their sons, with the augmented strength and resources with which time and Heaven had blessed them.
Done at the city of Washington, the first day of September in the year of our Lord, 1814, and of the independence of the U.S.: the 39th.
By the president,
JAS. MONROE, Sec. of State