The British Burn The Capitol

"Jefferson's Response"

"Learning of the Loss of the Library of Congress"

"Thomas Jefferson offers his library to Congress after the British burn the Capitol in 1814 On learning of the burning of the Capitol and the loss of the 3,000-volume Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his friend, newspaper publisher, Samuel H. Smith (1772-1845) asking him to offer Congress his personal library of between "9 and 10,000 volumes" as a replacement. Jefferson promised to accept any price set by Congress, commenting that "I do not know that it contains any branch of science which Congress would wish to exclude from this collection . . . there is in fact no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer." Records indicate the total of volumes received by the Library of Congress was 6,487. This more than doubled the holdings that were lost in the fire of 1814. Thomas Jefferson to Samuel H. Smith September 21, 1814. Manuscript letter Page 2"