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Home / World News / Trump erroneously blames Canada for burning down White House in War of 1812 during call with Trudeau

Trump erroneously blames Canada for burning down White House in War of 1812 during call with Trudeau

US President Donald Trump erroneously blamed Canada for the burning of the White House in the War of 1812 during a recent telephonic talk with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. It was British troops who burned down the White House in 1814.

world Updated: Jun 07, 2018 23:43 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump had called up Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to discuss his administration’s tariffs in Canadian steel and aluminium imports.
US President Donald Trump had called up Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to discuss his administration’s tariffs in Canadian steel and aluminium imports.(AP)

When US President Donald Trump defends his tough trade position before leaders from America’s closest and oldest allies at a G-7 summit starting in Canada on Friday, he may choose to either steer clear of historical references, or get them right.

He goes there with an embarrassing booboo, about what has been called America’s “Second war of independence”. In a testy phone call with Canadian premier Justin Trudeau on May 25, while discussing the newly imposed duties on steel and aluminium (25% and 10% respectively), Trump asked: “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?”

The reference was to the War of 1812 that was started by Americans declaring war on Britain and attacking the latter’s colony in what is now Canada. A retaliatory attack led by a British general had burnt down Washington DC, the White House, Congress and other government buildings in 1814.

The war ended in 1815 with the Treaty of Ghent.

Trump referred to the war, according to CNN, in a reply to Trudeau’s question about the rationale used by the US to levy the tariff, under a little-known and used law to justify it as a “national security” issue.

Reports of the phone call did not detail Trudeau’s response, specially about a part of US history that would give the country its national anthem, the “Star-spangled banner”.

The US president will need more than history when he confronts his G-7 allies, some of whom have publicly been critical of the new tariffs that have already attracted retaliatory steps from some of them.

Trudeau, the host of the summit, has called the use of the national security clause for the tariff as “insulting and unacceptable” and told reporters on Wednesday that “some very direct conversations” on tariffs are expected to take place during the weekend.

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