11 Flight to Leesburg

two miles upstream to the village of Georgetown, where they were hidden in an abandoned gristmill . After a night in the gristmill, Pleasanton had the carts loaded again and driven to the town of Leesburg, Virginia, some 35 miles west of Washington. The bags were placed in an empty house. Pleasanton turned the keys over to John Littlejohn, a minister and the local sheriff of Leesburg. When the British soldiers arrived in Washington, they found the city nearly empty. The soldiers set fire to the White House. Although a thunderstorm drenched the fire, extinguishing the flames before the building was completely destroyed, all that remained were the sturdy exterior walls of the mansion. But far away in Leesburg, the papers saved by Stephen Pleasanton were safe from the British invasion. The papers were returned to Washington that fall. For saving the Declaration of Independence, Pleasanton received a promotion. As for John Armstrong, his refusal to believe the British would invade Washington cost him his job.

Text-Dependent Question Why did Stephen Pleasanton need to save the Declaration of Independence and other documents? Research Project The War of 1812 has often been called “the Second American Revolution.” To explain this, you will need to research and understand the causes of this conflict, as well as what its resolution meant for the United States and its relationship with Great Britain.

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