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Congress Enacts First Declaration of War


Britain’s interference with American shipping and a blockade of U.S. ports leads President James Madison to ask Congress for a declaration of war against Great Britain. The House votes 79 to 49 for war on June 4. The Senate votes more narrowly for war, 19 to 13, on June 18. In August 1814, British troops invade Washington, D.C., and burn the White House and Capitol, but are eventually turned back at Baltimore. The inconclusive war is ended by the Treaty of Ghent, but, before word of the treaty reached the United States, Americans score a morale-building victory at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815.