Dolley Madison

In August 1814, British soldiers invaded Washington D.C. They looted the White House and Capitol Building, and set fire to both. Dolley Madison, wife of then-president James Madison, rescued a few items from the White House moments before the soldiers arrived, but everything else was stolen or burned. The fleet of ships then attacked Baltimore. That battle inspired the national anthem penned by Francis Scott Key: The Star-Spangled Banner. The ships then sailed for Halifax, Canada. In a bad storm, the fleet turned in to the shoals near Prospect. Divers in this area have found items that can be linked to the 19th century White House. Ironically, because of where the ships went down and the fact that they were British Royal Navy ships, the rights of ownership of items is at question. There is dispute that the items may be kept by anyone with a treasure trove license who recovers them. That is challenged because the items were on a British military vessel; and of course these items were also once property of the United States, the White House and the Madison family. Portrait courtesy of the National Archives.

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