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200th anniversary British attack on Washington DC in British v American war

August 24, 2014 - UNITED STATES

Aug 24, 2014, marks the 200th anniversary of a shocking and humiliating attack by British troops on Washington DC.

British Gen. Robert Ross captured the city and burned government buildings that included the United States Capitol and the executive mansion. The British explained the offensive as retaliation for an American attack on York in Ontario, Canada. As painful memories often are, the attack on the nation's heart has been largely buried. If the memory is dusted off for the bicentenary, it is likely to be used to reopen the argument about which side - British or American -- won the War of 1812. Each side claims victory. The British vs. American conflict, which ended with the Treaty of Ghent on 24 Dec 1814, spawned many assaults on both sides of the border. The bicentenary of the Washington DC attack might also be recalled to invoke the second traumatizing and humiliating attack on the heart of the nation, 187 years after the first. On 11 Sep 2001, terrorists crashed a plane into the supposedly impregnable Pentagon, one of several attacks on the same day that banished any sense of American invincibility. By coincidence or design, 11 Sep 2001 fell exactly 60 years after ground was broken for the construction of the Pentagon - the future nerve center of the American military.

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Date written/update: 2014-04-05