Washington City: Tuesday, August 30, 1814. Broadside newspaper, 33 x 26 cm., printed in four columns. Unevenly trimmed along the top edge, some old spotting, and one small hole; the word "Boston" written in ink on the verso. The rare first issue of this paper, following a necessary pause in printing occasioned by the British invasion of the capital. A report on the burning of Washington on August 24, 1814, appears in a brief article entitled "The Fate of War," describing the destruction of the interior of the Capitol, the President's house and the public offices. In a paragraph preceding the articles, the publishers declared "After an intermission of several days, owing to the unfortunate events hereinafter noticed, we have it in our power to issue a paper in the present reduced form, which we hope in a day or two to change to its usual shape and condition." Also printed is the text of a letter from Brig. Gen. Winder, writing from Baltimore on Aug. 27 to the Secretary of War describing actions of his troops at Bladensburg. The broadside praised Pres. Madison who "was not only active during the engagement which took place with the enemy, but... has been personally active ever since."
Reporting on its own fate, the National Intelligencer noted that for the most part private property was "in general scrupulously respected" by the invaders but that its newspaper offices were the sole exception: "Cockburn, the incendiary hero of Hampton, presided at the demolition of its material parts, and amused the spectators with much of the peculiar slang of the Common Sewer in relation to the Editors of this paper. The destruction of our office will account for the present appearance of our paper." Only one copy of this issue has appeared at auction [6,000 PBA Galleries, 2014]. Item #68176
Rear Admiral George Cockburn had a particular dislike for the editors of the National Intelligencer and specifically its English-born publisher Joseph Gales, according to Anthony Pitch in his book "The Burning of Washington, The British Invasion of 1814," [Naval Institute Press: 1998]. Gales paper had "demonized him for so long before the American people [that] of all the destructive acts perpetrated by the British in the American capital, this alone was based on personal vendetta." Cockburn presided over the destruction of the newspaper's equipment, the wrecking of its plant, the burning of its older issues, and the scattering of the type. One source says he particularly targeted the letter "C" so Gales could no longer print anything about him.