Letter to Champagny: November 15, 1807
Letter to the Emperor of Austria: October,
Letter to the American Minister, Armstrong:
Napoleon's Addresses: 1807 - 1808
Compiled By Tom Holmberg
Letter to Champagny: November 15, 1807
"Since America suffers her vessels to be searched, she adopts
the principle that the flag does not cover the goods.
"Since she recognizes the absurd blockades laid by England,
consents to having her vessels incessantly stopped, sent to England,
and so turned aside from their course, why should not the Americans
suffer the blockade laid by France? Certainly France is no more blockaded
by England than England by France. Why should not Americans also
suffer their vessels to be searched by French ships? Certainly France
recognizes that these measures are unjust, illegal, and subversive
of national sovereignty; but it is the duty of nations to resort to
force, and to declare themselves against things which dishonor them
and disgrace their independence."
Letter to the Emperor of Austria: October, 1808
"Sire my Brother:—I thank your Royal and Imperial Majesty
for the letter you have been so good as to write me, and which Baron
Vincent delivered. I never doubted your Majesty, but I nevertheless
feared for a moment that hostilities would be renewed between us.
There is, at Vienna, a faction which affects alarm in order to drive
your Cabinet to violent measures, which would entail misfortunes greater
than those which are passed. I had it in my power to dismember your
Majesty's monarchy, or at least to diminish its power. I did not
do so. It exists as it is by my consent. This is a plain proof that
our accounts are settled; that I have no desire to injure you. I
am always ready to guarantee the integrity of your monarchy. I will
never do anything adverse to the important interests of States. But
your Majesty ought not to bring again under discussion what has been
settled by a fifteen years' war. You ought to avoid every proclamation
or act calculated to excite dissension. The last levy in mass might
have provoked war if I had apprehended that the levy and preparations
were made in conjunction with Russia.
"I have just disbanded the camp of the Confederation. I have
sent a hundred thousand men to Boulogne to renew my projects against
England. I had reason to believe when I had the happiness of seeing
your Majesty, and had concluded the treaty of Presburg, that our disputes
were terminated forever, and that I might undertake the maritime war
without interruption. I beseech your Majesty to distrust those, who,
by speaking of the dangers of the monarchy, disturb your happiness
and that of your family and people. Those persons alone are dangerous;
they create the dangers they pretend to fear. By a straightforward,
plain, and ingenious line of conduct, your Majesty will render your
people happy, will secure to yourself that tranquillity of which you
must stand in need after so many troubles, and will be sure of finding
me determined to do nothing hostile to your important interests.
Let your conduct bespeak confidence, and you will inspire it. The
best policy at the present time is simplicity and truth. Confide
your troubles to me when you have any, and I will instantly banish
them. Allow me to make one observation more—listen to your own judgment—your
own feelings—they are much more correct than those of your advisers.
I beseech your Majesty to read my letter in the spirit in which it
is written, and to see nothing in it inconsistent with the welfare
and tranquillity of Europe and your Majesty."
Letter to the American Minister, Armstrong: 1809
"The seas belong to all nations. Any vessel, sailing under
whatsoever flag, recognized and avowed by her, should be as much at
home in the midst of the seas as if she were in her own ports. The
flag floating from the mast of a merchant vessel should be respected
as much as if it floated from the top of a village spire.
"In case of war between two maritime powers, neutrals should
follow the legislation of neither one. Every vessel should be protected
by its flag. Every power which violates a flag declares war against
the power to which it belongs. To insult a merchant vessel which
carries the flag of a power, is the same thing as invading a town
or colony belonging to that power. His Majesty declares that he considers
the fleets of nations as floating colonies belonging to those nations.
In consequence of this principle, the sovereignty and independence
of a nation is a property of its neighbors. If a French citizen was
insulted in an American port or colony, the Government of the United
States would not deny that it was responsible for it. In the same
way the Government of the United States must be responsible for the
violation of French property on board of a ship or floating American
colony; otherwise, this Government, not being able to gaurantee the
integrity of its rights and the independence of its flag, his Majesty
considers the American vessels which have been violated by visits,
by taxes, and other arbitrary acts, as no longer belonging to the
United States, and as denationalized.
"But whatever the Government of the United States shall order
its vessels armed to repulse the unjust aggressions of England, to
sustain its rights, against the refusal of this power to recognize
the great principle that the flag covers the ship, and against its
unjust pretension of searching neutral vessels, his Majesty is willing
to recognize them and treat them as neutrals."
Napoleon's Addresses: Selections from the Proclamations, Speeches
and Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Edited by Ida M. Tarbell.
(Boston: Joseph Knight, 1896.)
Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2003
on Napoleon's Addresses | Napoleon
Himself Index ]