When the Mighty are Humbled, and the Humble Host the Mighty

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800. Photo: Public domain

An ominous wind rattled the Quaker hamlet of Brookeville, Md., on the night of August 26, 1814. Viewed through the lens of power and privilege, that fact is astounding, considering the one desperate for food and lodging was President James Madison himself, the Father of the Constitution, and his band of weary aides. But there were no vacancies.

At last, the party found solace at the home of Caleb Bentley, the burg’s postmaster, appointed by Thomas Jefferson. Bentley also served as a silversmith …

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