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Letter from Napoleon to the Senate Declaring War on Prussia: 7 October 1806

Letter of H. M. NAPOLÉON-THE-GREAT, to the president and members of the Senate; preceded by the speech of S. A. S. Mgr. prince Cambacérès, arch-chancellor of the Empire; to follow two addresses of reports to His Majesty the Emperor and King, by prince de Bénévent, minister of foreign relations, and several interesting notes relating to the declaration of war between France and Prussia.

October 14, at midday, pursuant to the orders of H. M. Emperor and King, S. A. S. Mgr. the prince arch-chancellor of the Empire, went to the Senate.

The prince was received with the accustomed ceremony; and, after having started the meeting, he said:

DEAR SIRS,

"The letter that H. M. Emperor and King wrote with the Senate, and the communications which I come to share from him have as an aim to inform you of a resolution made necessary by the acts of the Prussian government.”

Letter of H. M. Emperor and King.

"SENATORS,"

“We left our capital, to return ourselves to the milieu of our army of Germany from the moment that we knew with certainty that she was threatened on these sides by unexpected movements.  Hardly having arrived on the borders of our States, we have recognized in this place how much our presence was necessary there and to applaud our defensive measurements that we took before leaving the center of our Empire.  Already the Prussian armies, carrying a great complement of war, had shaken of all leave; they had exceeded their borders; Saxony was invaded, and the wise prince who governed was forced to act against his will, against the interest of his people.  The Prussian armies had arrived in front of the cantonments of our troops.  Provocations of all species--the same ways in fact that had announced the spirit of hatred which animated our enemies, and the moderation of our soldiers, who, quiet with the aspect of all these movements, only astonished not to receive any order, rested in double confidence that gives courage and the good right.  Our first duty was to pass the Rhine ourselves, to form our camps, and to prepare our warriors.  Combined and rapids marches carried them in one leap, precisely to the place that we indicated to them.  All our camps are formed; we will march against the Prussian armies, and will push them back:  force-by-force.  However, we dare the statement that our heart is painfully affected by this constant preponderance, which in Europe the genius of the evil obtains, of being unceasingly occupied with crossing the drafts which we form for the peace of Europe, the repose and the happiness of the generation present, besieging all the cabinets by all kinds of seductions, and mislaying those that it could corrupt, blinding them of their true interests, and launching them in the milieu of the parties, without another guide to the passions which he knew inspired  them.  The cabinet of Berlin even did not choose with deliberation the party, which took them; it was thrown there with art and a malicious address.  The king was all of a sudden a hundred miles from his capital, on the borders of the confederation of the Rhine, the milieu of his army and face-to-face with the French troops dispersed in their cantonments, and which in duty believing they could count on the bonds which linked the two States, and on the protestations lavished in all circumstances by the court of Berlin.  In a war so just, where we only take up weapons to defend ourselves, which we caused by no act, by any claim, and of which it is for us impossible to assign the true cause, we count entirely on the support of the laws and that of the people, that the circumstances invite to give us of new evidence of their devotion and their courage.  On our side, no personal sacrifice will be painful for us, no danger will not stop us, for at all the times it will be a question of ensuring the rights, the honor and the prosperity of our people.”

"Given in our imperial district of Bamberg, October 7, 1806."

Signed, NAPOLÉON.

  By the Emperor, the minister secretary of state, signed, H. B. MARET.

 

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