Brook Silva-Braga spoke with me on The Fold Monday evening about “Through the Perilous Fight: Six Weeks That Saved the Nation.” The book, published by Random House, tells the story of the burning of federal Washington, the battle for Baltimore, and the circumstances behind the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner.
During the attack on Washington, the British burned buildings housing every branch of the American government, including the Capitol, the White House and headquarters for the War Department and Navy. The Supreme Court and the Library of Congress, then housed in the Capitol, were also destroyed.
“We call it the war of 1812, but the worst of it didn’t happen until 1814, when Washington was burned by the British and the U.S. teetered toward collapse,” Silva-Braga noted.
On Wednesday, scholars from the United States, Britain and Canada are convening at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis for a four-day conference on the war, the largest being held during the bicentennial of the conflict. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is expected to officially open the conference on Thursday.
Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript of The Star-Spangled Banner is being taken to the author’s graveside in Frederick, Md. for the first time for a two-day event Friday and Saturday marking Flag Day.