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Sunday, November 3, 2013

What Happened to the 1790 Georgia Census?

US Capitol after burning of 1814. Watercolor by George Munger
After the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in April of 1814, the British turned its focus to the United States. The Earl of Bathurst dispatched troops to Bermuda from where a blockade of the American coast and coastal islands were overseen. The idea was to district the US from its campaigns against Canada.

A force of 2,500 british soldiers commanded byr Major General Robert Ross arrived in Bermuda aboard the HMS Royal Oak, three frigates, three sloops, and ten other vessels sailed up the Patuxent River and dislodged the Maryland militia from "The Plains", a plantation on the south side of the river that was being used as an observation post and military barracks. They landed and threatened to destroy Maryland property. As a result, the local Maryland militia hesitated to oppose the invaders. Then, on August 19, 1814,  the Royal Marines landed at Benedict, Maryland and routed the US Navy's vessel Chesapeake Bay Flotilla and on August 24th, put down the America Militia at the Battle of Bladensburg..

Immediately after the battle, the British sent an advance guard of soldiers to advance on Capitol Hill. . Major General Ross sent a party under a flag of truce to agree to terms, but they were attacked by partisans from a house at the corner of Maryland Avenue, Constitution Avenue, and Second Street NE. This was to be the only resistance the soldiers met within the city. The House was burned, and the British raised their flat over Washington. The orders were given to burn only the public buildings.
This include the Senate, House of Representatives, central rotunda of the unfinished Capitol and the Library of Congress.During all of this a hurricane blew its force into the district and the rains preserved the outside structure of the Library ofCongress.  Apparently the census from certain States was burned. As a personal note, despite his financial difficulties, Thomas Jefferson later sold his personal library of more than 6,000 volumes to the government to restock the Library of Congress. As the british troops turned northwest up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House, the first Lady, Dolley Madison, organized the slaves and staff to save valuables.

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