On August 24, 1814, many of D.C.’s most prominent buildings were burned by the British, including the White House. First Lady Dolley Madison refused to leave without a particular painting of George Washington, known as the “Gilbert Stuart Lansdowne Portrait.”
As it was bolted to the wall, she commanded two men to hack away at the frame and free it. It was then turned over to Jacob Barker and Robert G.L. De Peyster with the instructions to destroy it if the British tried to confiscate it.
Today, the portrait hangs in the East Room of the White House.
– Jacqueline Gualtieri, The Washington DC 100