The date was August 26 . . . the year was 1814 . . . the situation was most dire. The brave and bold young nation known as the United States was in a life-and-death struggle with the British. The British troops had burned the new nation’s capital and caused the residents of Washington and Georgetown to flee for their very lives. The refugees poured into Brookeville, Maryland, a small community located 18 miles north of the District of Columbia. As the refugees arrived, the townspeople took them into their homes. American soldiers leaving Bladenburg, and militiamen on their way to Baltimore, came to Brookeville. The citizens gave them food and spirits, as well as a place to camp and pasture their horses. Washington’s banks sent the specie and clerks brought the U. S. Senate’s papers to Brookeville for safe-keeping. Then, finally, after being on the run in Northern Virginia for two nights, President James Madison and his Cabinet arrived in Brookeville, taking refuge in the home of the local Postmaster, Caleb Bentley. It was from that home, in this small town, the business of the U. S. Government was conducted at that troubled moment in history. It was on this date, 200 years ago, that the small town of Brookeville, Maryland, became the U. S. Capital for a brief period of 18 hours, and 200 years later the town continues to celebrate its brush with fame.
It is at this point that Paul Harvey would have said . . . “And now you know . . . the rest of the story. Good day!”