The Waterloo Association: Members Area

Join: Join the Waterloo Association

Thomas Jefferson on Napoleon – From the Marriage of Jerome Bonaparte to Human Misery

From the Marriage of Jerome Bonaparte to Human Misery

By Tom Holmberg

Bonaparte (Jerome), Marriage of.

A report reaches us from Baltimore, * * * * that Mr. Jerome Bonaparte, brother of the First Consul, is married to Miss Patterson, of that city. The effect of this measure on the mind of the First Consul, is not for me to suppose; but as it might occur to him, prima facie, that the Executive of the United States ought to have prevented it, I have thought it advisable to mention the subject to you, that, if necessary, you may by explanation set that idea to rights. You know that by our laws, all persons are free to enter into marriage, if of twenty-one years of age, no one having a power to restrain it, not even their parents; and that under that age, no one can prevent it but the parent or guardian. The lady is under age, and the parents, placed between her affections, which were strongly fixed, and the considerations opposing the measure, yielded with pain and anxiety to the former. Mr. Patterson is the President of the Bank of Baltimore, the wealthiest man in Maryland, perhaps in the United States, except Mr. Carroll; a man of great virtue and respectability; the mother is the sister of the lady of General Samuel Smith; and, consequently, the station of the family in society is with the first of the United States. These circumstances fix rank in a country where there are no hereditary titles.—To Robert R. Livingston. iv, 510. Ford ed., viii, 277. (W., Nov. 1803.)

Bonaparte (N.), Brutuses for.

If Bonaparte declares for royalty, either in his own person, or for Louis XVIII., he has but a few days to live. In a nation of so much enthusiasm, there must be a million of Brutuses who will devote themselves to destroy him. —To Henry Innes. iv, 315. Ford ed., vii, 412. (Pa., Jan. 1800.)

Bonaparte (N.), Brutuses for.

Had the consuls been put to death in the first tumult, and before the nation had time to take sides, the Directory and Councils might have reestablished themselves on the spot. But that not being done, perhaps it is now to be wished that Bonaparte may be spared, as, according to his protestations, he is for liberty, equality and representative government, and he is more able to keep the nation together, and to ride out the storm than any other. Perhaps it may end in their establishing a single representative, and that in his person. I hope it will not be for life, for fear of the influence of the example on our countrymen. It is very material for the latter to be made sensible that their own character and situation are materially different from the French; and that whatever may be the fate of republicanism there, we are able to preserve it inviolate here.—To John Breckenridge. Ford ed., vii, 418. (Pa., Jan. 1800.)

Bonaparte (N.), Cromwell, Washington and.

My confidence has been placed in the head, not in the heart of Bonaparte. I hoped he would calculate truly the difference between the fame of a Washington and a Cromwell.—To Samuel Adams. iv, 321. Ford ed., vii, 425. (Pa., Feb. 1800.)

Bonaparte (N.), Detested.

No man on earth has stronger detestation than myself of the unprincipled tyrant who is deluging the continent of Europe with blood. No one was more gratified by his disasters of the last campaign.*—To Dr. George Logan. vi, 216. Ford ed., ix, 423. (M., Oct. 1813.)

*This extract got into the newspapers contrary to Jefferson’s wishes, and led to a long interruption of the correspondence between him and Dr. Logan. At length, in 1816, he wrote Logan, complaining of the publication, and said: “this [extract] produced to me more complaints from my best friends and called for more explanations than any transaction of my life had ever done.  They inferred from this partial extract an approbation of the conduct of England, which yet the same letter censured with equal rigor.  It produced, too, from the minister of Bonaparte a complaint, not indeed formal, for I was but a private citizen, but serious, of my volunteering with England in the abuse of his sovereign.” Editor [John P Foley]

Bonaparte (N.), Embargo and.

The explanation of his principles given you by the French Emperor, in conversation, is correct as far as it goes. He does not wish us to go to war with England, knowing we have no ships to carry on that war. To submit to pay to England the tribute on our commerce which she demands by her orders of council, would be to aid her in the war against him, and would give him just ground to declare war with us. He, concludes, therefore, as every rational man must, that the Embargo, the only remaining alternative, was a wise measure. These are acknowledged principles, and should circumstances arise which may offer advantage to our country in making them public, we shall avail ourselves of them. But as it is not usual nor agreeable to governments to bring their conversations before the public, I think it would be well to consider this on your part as confidential, leaving to the government to retain or make it public, as the general good may require. Had the Emperor gone further, and said that he condemned our vessels going voluntarily into his ports in breach of his municipal laws, we might have admitted it rigorously legal, though not friendly. But his condemnation of vessels taken on high seas, by his privateers and carried involuntarily into his ports, is justifiable by no law; is piracy, and this is the wrong we complain of against him.—To Robert R. Livingston. v, 370. Ford ed., ix, 209. (W., Oct. 1808.)

Bonaparte (N.), England and.

To complete and universalize the desolation of the globe, it has been the will of Providence to raise up, at the same time, a tyrant as unprincipled and as overwhelming, for the ocean. Not in the poor maniac George, but in his government and nation. Bonaparte will die, and his tyrannies with him. But a nation never dies. The English government, and its piratical principles and practices, have no fixed term of duration. Europe feels, and is writhing under the scorpion whips of Bonaparte. We are assailed by those of England. The one continent thus placed under the gripe of England, and the other of Bonaparte, each has to grapple with the enemy immediately pressing on itself. We must extinguish the fire kindled in our own house, and leave to our friends beyond the water that which is consuming theirs.—To Madame de Stael. vi, 115. (M., May. 1813.)

Bonaparte (N.), Execrated.

I know nothing which can so severely try the heart and spirit of man, and especially of the man of science, as the necessity of a passive acquiescence under the abominations of an unprincipled tyrant who is deluging the earth with blood to acquire for himself the reputation of a Cartouche or a Robin Hood. The petty larcenies of the Blackbeards and Buccaneers of the ocean, the more immediately exercised on us, are dirty and grovelling things addressed to our contempt, while the horrors excited by the Scelerat of France are beyond all human execrations.—To Dr. Morrell. vi, 100. (M., Feb. 1813.)

Bonaparte (N.), A Great Scoundrel.

Bonaparte was a lion in the field only. In civil life, a cold-blooded, calculating, unprincipled usurper, without a virtue; no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption. I had supposed him a great man until his entrance into the Assembly des cinq cens, eighteen Brumaire (an VIII). From that date, however, I set him down as a great scoundrel only.—To John Adams. vi, 352. Ford ed., ix, 461. (M., July. 1814.)

Bonaparte (N.), Hatred of United States.

Bonaparte hates our government because it is a living libel on his.—To William Duane. v, 553. Ford ed., ix, 287. (M., 1810.)

Bonaparte (N.), Hatred of United States.

Bonaparte’s hatred of us is only a little less than that he bears to England, and England to us. Our form of government is odious to him, as a standing contrast between republican and despotic rule; and as much from that hatred, as from ignorance in political economy, he had excluded intercourse between us and his people, by prohibiting the only articles they wanted from us, cotton and tobacco.—To Thomas Leiper. vi, 464. Ford ed., ix, 520. (M., June 1815.)

Bonaparte (N.), Hatred of United States.

It is not possible Bonaparte should love us; and of that our commerce had sufficient proof during his power. Our military achievements, indeed, which he is capable of estimating, may in some degree, moderate the effect of his aversions; and he may, perhaps, fancy that we are to become the natural enemies of England, as England herself has so steadily endeavored to make us, and as some of our own over-zealous patriots would be willing to proclaim; and in this view, he may admit a cold toleration of some intercourse and commerce between the two nations. He has certainly had time to see the folly of turning the industry of France from the cultures for which nature has so highly endowed her, to those of sugar, cotton, tobacco, and others, which the same creative power has given to other climates; and, on the whole, if he can conquer the passions of his tyrannical soul, if he has understanding enough to pursue from motives of interest, what no moral motives lead him to, the tranquil happiness and prosperity of his country, rather than a ravenous thirst for human blood, his return may become of more advantage than injury to us.—To John Adams. vi, 458. (M., June 1815.)

Bonaparte (N.), Havoc by.

A conqueror roaming over the earth with havoc and destruction.—To Dr. Walter Jones. v, 511. Ford ed., ix, 274. (M., 1810.)

Bonaparte (N.), His Ideas on Government.

Should it be really true that Bonaparte has usurped the government with an intention of making it a free one, whatever his talents may be for war, we have no proofs that he is skilled in forming governments friendly to the people. Wherever he has meddled, we have seen nothing but fragments of the old Roman government stuck into materials with which they can form no cohesion. We see the bigotry of an Italian to the ancient splendor of his country, but nothing which bespeaks a luminous view of the organization of rational government. Perhaps, however, this may end better than we augur; and it certainly will, if his head is equal to true and solid calculations of glory.—To T. M. Randolph. iv, 319. Ford ed., vii, 422. (Pa., Feb. 1800.)

Bonaparte (N.), Human Misery and.

Bonaparte has been the author of more misery and suffering to the world, than any being who ever lived before him. After destroying the liberties of his country, he has exhausted all its resources, physical and moral, to indulge his own maniac ambition, his own tyrannical and overbearing spirit. His sufferings cannot be too great.—To Albert Gallatin. vi, 499. (M., Oct. 1815.)