Dolly Madison is one of the significant leaders of this age as she was the first lady during hard times for the United States. From this letter, the readers determine the first-person responses to the unfolding historical events of the time. This paper considers different questions regarding the letter and its portrayal of the events.
From the letter, it could be deduced that the American army was, at the time, unprepared for the British attack. Dolly Madison records: “that the enemy seemed stronger than had at first been reported, and it might happen that they would reach the city with the intention of destroying it”. It is quite possible that the American army had underestimated the strength with which the British would attack Washington, and were thus confused about their military response.
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Notwithstanding, James Madison is presented as a courageous yet unflinching leader. Moreover, he is placed as sensitive and motivational, as he joins his army to meet the oncoming British attack: “He inquired anxiously whether I had courage or firmness to remain in the President's house… he left, beseeching me to take care of myself”. However, bias is detected because of the relationship the writer had to the subject matter, Mr. Madison. Despite the fact that the attack against the city would inevitably prevail, no mention of this is made on the letter.
At the same time, Dolly Madison’s contribution is seen as that of putting public interests before private ones. As the keepers of public records, Dolly Madison made sure that the records would be made safe before their own private property, and quite literally ‘held the fort’ until the last possible moment.
Lastly, the attack on the White House shows the American involvement in diplomacy as the British were responding to the American attack on the city of York in Canada. At this time, there were already established methods of international relations where aggression was met with equal or greater force and show of power (History.com Staff, 2009). The Americans would have to consider future military responses to avoid future desecrations.
History.com Staff. (2009). 1814: British troops set fire to the White House . Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/british-troops-set-fire-to-the-white-house