On this day in 1814, first lady Dolley Madison saves a portrait of George Washington from being looted by British troops during the war of 1812.
According to the White House Historical Society and Dolley’s personal letters, President James Madison left the White House on August 22 to meet with his generals on the battlefield, as British troops threatened to enter the capitol…Dolley wrote to her sister on the night of August 23 that a friend who came to help her escape was exasperated at her insistence on saving the portrait. Since the painting was screwed to the wall she ordered the frame to be broken and the canvas pulled out and rolled up. Two unidentified “gentlemen from New York” hustled it away for safe-keeping. (Unbeknownst to Dolley, the portrait was actually a copy of Gilbert Stuart’s original). http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/dolley-madison-saves-portrait-from-british
The picture above shows the copy of the painting that Dolley Madison saved on the left, and the original painting which can still be seen in the National Portrait Gallery on the right.
You can learn more about Dolley Madison by checking out a biography, Juvenile Biography section jBiog. Madison.