Research Subjects: Napoleon Himself


Order to Seize all English in France, Announced in the Moniteur, May, 1803

Letter to the Pope, 1804

Address to the Troops on Presenting the Colors, December 3, 1804

Letter to the King of England, January 2, 1805

Regarding the Marriage of Jerome Bonaparte to Betsy Patterson

Letter to Jerome Bonaparte about Betsy Patterson, May 6, 1805


Napoleon's Addresses: 1803 - 1805

Compiled By Tom Holmberg

Order to Seize all English in France, Announced in the Moniteur, May, 1803

"The Government of the Republic, having heard read, by the Minister of Marine and Colonies, a despatch from the maritime prefect at Brest, announcing that two English frigates had taken two merchant vessels in the Bay of Andrieu, without any previous declaration of war, and in manifest violation of the law of nations,—

"All the English, from the ages of eighteen to sixty, or holding any commission from his Britannic Majesty, who are at present in France, shall immediately be constituted prisoners of war, to answer to those citizens of he Republic who may have been arrested and made prisoners by the vessels or subjects of his Britannic Majesty previous to any declaration of hostilities."

Letter to the Pope, 1804

"Most Holy Father:

—The happy effect produced upon the character and morality of my people by the reestablishment of religion induces me to beg your Holiness to give me a new proof of your interest in my destiny, and in that of this great nation, in one of the most important conjunctures presented in the annals of the world.  I beg you to come and give, to the highest degree, a religious character to the anointing and coronation of the first Emperor of the French.  That ceremony will acquire a new lustre by being performed by your Holiness in person.  It will bring down upon our people, and yourself, the blessing of God, whose decrees rule the destiny of Empires and families.  Your Holiness is aware of the affectionate sentiments I have long borne towards you, and can thence judge of the pleasure that this occurrence will afford me of testifying them anew.  We pray God that He may preserve you, most Holy Father, for many years, to rule and govern our mother, the Holy Church.

"Your dutiful son,


Address to the Troops on Presenting the Colors, December 3, 1804

"Soldiers: Behold your colors! These eagles will always be your rallying point!  They will always be where your Emperor may think them necessary for the defence of his throne and of his people.  Swear to sacrifice your lives to defend them, and by your courage to keep them constantly in the path of victory.  Swear!"

Letter to the King of England, January 2, 1805

"Sir, my brother:—Called to the throne by Providence, by the suffrages of the Senate, of the people, and of the army, my first desire is peace.  France and England, abusing their prosperity, may contend for ages.  But do their respective governments fulfil their most sacred duties in causing so much blood to be vainly shed without the hope of advantage or the hope of cessation?  I do not conceive that it can be deemed dishonorable in me to make the first advances.  I believe it has been sufficiently proved to the world that I dread none of the chances of war, which indeed offer nothing I can fear.  Though peace is the wish of my heart, yet war has never been adverse to my glory. I conjure your Majesty, then, not to refuse the happiness of giving peace to the world.  Delay not that grateful satisfaction, that it may be a legacy for your children; that it may be a legacy for your children; for never have arisen more favorable circumstances, nor a more propitious moment for calming every passion and displaying the best feelings of humanity and reason.  That moment once lost, what term shall we set to a struggle which all my efforts have been unable to terminate.  In the space of ten years your Majesty has gained more in wealth and territory than the extent of Europe comprehends.  Your people have attained the height of prosperity.  What then has your Majesty to hope from war?  The world is sufficiently extensive for our two nations; and reason might assist us to discover means of conciliating all, were both parties animated by a spirit of reconcilement.  At all events I have discharged a sacred duty, and one dear to my heart.  Your Majesty may rely upon the sincerity of the sentiments now expressed, and on my desire to afford your Majesty every proof of that sincerity."

Conversation with Decier [Decres?] Regarding the Marriage of Jerome Bonaparte [to Betsy Patterson (1785-1879)], May 6, 1805*

"Jerome is wrong to think that he will be able to count upon any weakness on my part, for, not having the rights of a father, I cannot entertain for him the feeling of a father; a father allows himself to be blinded, and it pleases him to be blinded because he identifies his son with himself.

"But what am I to Jerome?

*Eighteen-year-old Jerome Bonaparte, then a lieutenant in the French navy, met Elizabeth (Betsy) Patterson Bonaparte, the daughter of Baltimore merchant William Patterson, in 1803. She met Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860), brother of French emperor Napoleon I, when he visited the United States in 1803, and the two fell in love and married on Christmas eve of that year. The marriage was annulled by Napoleon’s decree in 1806. Jerome married Princess Catherine of Wurtemberg (1783-1835) in 1807 and was created King of Westphalia by Napoleon. Jerome and Betsy had one child, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (1805-1870).

Letter to Jerome Bonaparte, May 6, 1805

"Alexandria, 16 Floréal, year 13.

My brother, your letter of this morning informs me of your arrival in Alexandria.  There are no faults that a true repentance will not efface in my eyes.

"Your union with Mademoiselle Paterson is null, alike in the eyes of religion and of the law.  Write Mademoiselle Paterson to return to America.  I will grant her a pension of 60,000 francs during her lifetime, on condition that she will under no circumstances bear my name,--she has no right to do so owing to the non-existence of her marriage.  You must yourself give her to understand that you are powerless to change the nature of things.  Your marriage being thus annulled by your own consent, I will restore to you my friendship and continue to feel for you as I have done since your infancy, hoping that you will prove yourself worthy by the efforts you make to acquire my gratitude and to distinguish yourself in armies."


Napoleon's Addresses: Selections from the Proclamations, Speeches and Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Edited by Ida M. Tarbell. (Boston: Joseph Knight, 1896.)

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