The Waterloo Association: Members Area

Join: Join the Waterloo Association

Thomas Jefferson on Napoleon

By Tom Holmberg

It is interesting to see what a contemporary head-of-state thought of Napoleon. The following is a collection of quotes made by Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States. Jefferson left us a vivid portrait of his feelings on Napoleon the man, the leader, and the statesman. Although most of the quotes do not portray him in flattering terms, Jefferson did say that Napoleon did get it right at times!


The Roman numerals and numbers after each entry indicate where-volume and page–in the two editions (the first, unattributed, to the “Washington edition” and the second to the “Ford edition”) of Jefferson’s writings the letter can be found.  “Two editions of Jefferson’s Writings have been utilized in the preparation of this volume. One of them is The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, edited by H. A. Washington and printed by the United States Congress in 1853-54. The other edition is The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, collected and edited by Paul Leicester Ford, and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1892-99. The Ford Edition contains a large number of valuable letters and papers which are not printed in the Washington Edition, while the latter gives many letters that are not included by Mr. Ford in his volumes. The quotations in The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia are credited to both works if they contain them. Quotations with a single credit are printed only in the edition indicated. There are, in addition, some quotations from the Domestic Life of Jefferson. These are marked D. L. J.”

The abbreviations and dates in parentheses at the end of each entry represent the place and date the letter was written.  M.= Monticello. Pa.=Philadelphia. Wa.=Washington. P.F.= Popular Forest, Va.

* * * * represents material deleted from the letter by the editor, John P. Foley.

Source: Foley, John P. (ed.) The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia: a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson, classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles, relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc. [Patron’s Centennial Edition] New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900.