August 22 1814: Marching to Washington

On august 22 1814, late at night President Madison receives a scribbled note from James Monroe, that he had written over the last two days. It reads in part, “…The enemy are in full march for Washington. Have the materials prepared to destroy the bridges”  At 9 in that  morning, he had add a postscript “You had better remove the records.”  (The image above is from here.)

August 21 1814: Miss Milbanke Writes

byron and hobhouse

On August 21 1814, Annabella Milbanke responds to Lord Byron, from Seaham. She is persistent. She writes of her admiration for his poem Lara and compares him to Shakespeare. Byron and his sister Augusta are at Newstead.

In one case only should I willingly relinquish the pleasure of your correspondence—if its exercise were become disagreable to you. I shall now try to make a better use of it than of late, since I infer from your silence that my dream of seeing you soon is to end … What are your principal occupations? your projects? How is your health? In giving you so often the example of Egotism I wish it to be followed. I continue well, with prudence, but any approach towards the ways of the fashionable world occasions a return of complaints which originated there. Without so good a reason, a fashionable life must always be slavery to me, though I endured it as patiently & cheerfully as possible because my Mother was made unhappy by my repugnance to scenes where she deemed it advantageous for me to appear. I entered them at the age of seventeen with a caricatured opinion of their follies and vices, and looked on them with coldness and indifference … Continue reading

August 20 1814: Jefferson on Napoleon


I think the downfall of Bonaparte a great blessing for Europe, which never could have had peace while he was in power. every national society there also will be restored to their antient limits, and to the kind of government, good or bad, which they chuse. I believe the restoration of the Bourbons is the only point on which France could be rallied, and that their re-establishment3 is better for that country than civil wars whether they should be a peaceable nation under a fool or a warring one under a military despot of genius. to us alone this brings misfortune. it rids of all other enemies a tyrannical nation, fully armed, and deeply embittered by the wrongs they have done us. they may greatly distress individuals in their circumstances; but the soil and the men will remain unconquerable by them, and drinking deeper daily a more deadly, unquenchable and everlasting hatred to them. how much less money would it cost to them, and pain to us, to nourish mutual affections & mutual interests & happiness. but the destructive passions seem to have been implanted in man, as one of the obstacles to his too great multiplication. while we are thus gnawed however by national hatreds we retire with delight into the bosom of our individual friendships in the full feeling of which I salute you affectionately.

— Thomas Jefferson writes to William Short, 20 August 1814.

August 18 1814: Destroy and Lay Waste

His Britannic Majesty’s Ship The Tonnant, In the Patuxent River, August 18, 1814.

Sir – Having been called upon by the Governor General of the Canadas to aid him in carrying into effect measures of retaliation against the inhabitants of the United States for the wanton destruction committed by their army in Upper Canada, it has become imperiously my duty, conformably with the nature of the Governor General’s application, to issue to the naval force under my command, an order to destroy and lay waste such towns and districts upon the coast as may be found assailable. Continue reading

August 17 1814: Shakespeare, Poetry and Nature

On August 17 1814, Claire Clairmont writes in her Journal.

Set off at 5. Rainy – we got to some village whose name we did not enquire, wet through – and we asked at a small dirty roadside inn, to be allowed to dry ourselves – but they were as inhospitable as at Gray, and it was only by giving them money, we got them to light a faggot, and let us dry our clothes. Then continue our journey as the rain had nearly ceased. Dine in another village whose name I do not recollect upon dry Bread, a bit of Cheese and plums. It became a beautiful Evening, the rainy clouds fleeted fast away before the wind and blue sky appeared in various quarters. We approached Besançon the beauty of its situation was an enchantment.  The town is in a  Valley – it is dirty and old but Nature, dear Nature more than compensates for these defects. Continue reading