Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Re: Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne.

Talleyrand was sacked for rapacity, just as Bourrienne was (Bourrienne in 1810 from Hamburg and Talleyrand in 1807 after Tilsit).

Talleyrand resigned, and Napoleon kept him on in the Conseil d'État.

Bourrienne wasn't sacked; his position was eliminated because Hamburg was annexed to France. Napoleon was informed of his corruption in 1807, but Bourrienne remained in office through 1810.

And than please list the government officials that were corrupt. Talleyrand and Fouche certainly were, but both were eventually sacked by Napoleon.

Neither was sacked by Napoleon for corruption.

You have of course been given dozens of examples over the years with regard to other corrupt officials. We can start with the Empress, of course. Josephine accepted bribes from a number of people for allegedly using her influence to get meetings with Napoleon. She also used go-betweens (such as Reinhard) to communicate to notables in the smaller European states that Napoleon was allegedly very displeased with them for X or Y, but might be mollified by her good offices, assuming a suitable “gift” was forthcoming. This was mentioned by Georges Servières in his l'allemagne français sous Napoleon over 100 years ago. I found corroborating evidence of Servières’ narratives when I examined the papers of the Hamburg senate from those years. You yourself mentioned that Josephine was notorious for "dabbling in fraudulent army contracts." I was surprised by this and asked you to elaborate, but you declined.

Then there's the chief of police, Fouché, of whose legendary corruption you wrote: "that is old news." As with Talleyrand, Fouché was not fired for corruption, but if I'm not mistaken, became a Senator and was sent to govern Rome for a while (I probably have the sequence of that mixed-up, but the point remains: he wasn't fired for corruption, nor even really fired.)

You have never disputed that many of the marshals and generals took bribes. A number of people have provided dozens of examples to you over the years; there's even a new example on this very thread.

French police, judges, consuls and consular officials were notoriously easy to bribe. Here are some examples that you can verify using American archives:

A Baltimore shipper named John Smith complained that his ships would enter French ports, and then would mysteriously suffer damage, such as a rudder knocked off. When the American captain complained to police, the police commissioner and judge would habitually ask for a bribe. (Maryland Historical Society, Ms.1152.)

The Clifford Brothers of Philadelphia likewise had a ship seized in Brest, allegedly on the charge that she had no official papers and was therefore an “English privateer.” When their agent produced documentation showing that ship’s papers were genuine and in order, the judge required a payment, and suddenly all was well again. (PA Historical Society, Clifford-Pemberton collection.)

An American merchant named Philip Sadtler disembarked in Bremen in 1807 to find his ship and all his personal belongings confiscated. Four separate bribes to French officials were required to get it all back. (MD Hist. Society, Ms.1701)

The Nicholson Brothers, long-standing American businessmen in Bremen, were arrested for “looking like Englishmen.”They were released after paying bribes to the police. (MD Hist. Society, Nicholson papers, Ms2340.1)

The American consul sent to Trieste in 1810 to replace his predecessor reported that no paperwork could be obtained (for US ships to dock or unload) unless bribes were paid to the French dourness and administrators. (I forget the exact file # for this, but the correspondence of the US consuls in Trieste are kept in the National Archives at College Park, and are easy to use.)

The French Douanes set up a base on an island in the Weser river in 1806, from which they launched raids with the assistance of 100 gendarmes also based there, against private homes of the wealthy merchant class, and their offices, hauling back “suspicious” materials to their magazin, which were often then re-sold on the black market. This plundering of the civilian population was extensively covered by Max Schäfer in his Bremen und die Kontinentalsperre (Leipzig, 1915).

In Frankfurt and Berg in 1810 French officials decreed the burning of any “English goods.” Officially this meant anything that could be construed as having been imported on an English ship: leather, cloth, tobacco, etc. In reality, many of these were simply confiscated from the population by the French authorities, who then resold them on the blackmarket for a profit. This is documented in: Roger Dufraisse, Französiche Zollpolitik, Kontinentalsperre und Kontinentalsystem in Deutschland in der napoleonischen Zeit (Berlin, 1981). Michael Rowe has more recently written (From Reich to State, 2003) that “smuggling and fraud developed into a sophisticated industry centered on Cologne, Mainz, and Strasbourg.” (p. 199-201.)

These sorts of cases are relatively easy to track, if one does the research. For instance: an American schooner named Cora is impounded at La Rochelle. The captain writes to the owner/shipper in New York, telling him what has happened (record 1). The captain then goes to the US consul in La Rochelle and lodges a formal complaint (record 2). The consul is obligated to represent the American defendant, or to find a lawyer for him (record 3). Oddly, though, there is no trial, and suddenly all is well. The police have no record of the reason for the arrest. Finally, a European agent for the shipper sends him a bill (record 4), for the cost of the bribe to the judge. Sometimes these sorts of things are even notarized by the consul.

For primary sources on Bourrienne, of course, you'll need to visit the Staatsarchiv Hamburg, but you can get a brief synopsis in: Jean Mistler, “Hambourg sous l’occupation française,” Francia I(1973), 451-466.

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I'm probably forgetting a lot, but as of now we have the Empress, the Foreign Minister, the chief of Police, a substantial number of high-ranking military men, at least two ministers-plenipotentiary, and literally countless officials in the police and douanes... involved in some sort of corruption. If we were speaking of any regime other than Napoleon's, you would be the first to assert that it had a drastic and widespread problem with corruption.

Several of the above examples were simply cut-and-pasted from previous threads in which you made the same demand for names and specific examples.

If you - honestly and sincerely - would be persuaded by more examples, I can provide them. If no amount of specific examples will ever persuade you, then perhaps it might make more sense not to keep asking for them?

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