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° Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

Born: August 15, 1769, Ajaccio, Corsica.

The Corsican-born Napoleon, one of the greatest military strategists in history, rapidly rose in the ranks of the French Revolutionary Army. After attending military school, he fought during the French Revolution of 1789 and rapidly rose through the military ranks, leading French troops in a number of successful campaigns throughout Europe in the late 1700s.

By 1799, he had established himself at the top of a military dictatorship. By 1799, France was at war with most of Europe, and Napoleon returned home from his Egyptian campaign to take over the reigns of the French government and save his nation from collapse. After becoming first consul in February 1800, he reorganized his armies and defeated Austria.

In 1802, he established the Napoleonic Code, a new system of French law.

In 1812, thinking that Russia was plotting an alliance with England, Napoleon launched an invasion against the Russians that eventually ended with his troops retreating from Moscow and much of Europe uniting against him. In 1814, Napoleon’s broken forces gave up and Napoleon offered to step down in favor of his son. When this offer was rejected, he abdicated and was sent to Elba. In March 1815, he escaped his island exile and returned to Paris, where he regained supporters and reclaimed his emperor title, Napoleon I, in a period known as the Hundred Days.

In 1804 he established the French empire. By 1807, Napoleon’s empire stretched from the River Elbe in the north, down through Italy in the south, and from the Pyrenees to the Dalmatian coast.

Napoleon Bonaparte created constitutions and fair laws which included respect for religions and the abolishment of slavery, and he He encouraged education of science, arts and literature and he ended feudalism.

French law is still based on the principles of Napoleon's Code Civil.

Napoleon established both the Bank of France and the French bourse (stock exchange) as well as National and Departmental Tax Boards, to insure equitable taxation for all. Consequently, the income of the French peasants grew dramatically.

Napoleon established awards such as the "Legion of Honour" to reward those whose services to the nation merited special recognition; the recipient could be scientist, composer, legislator, clergyman, writer, as well as a soldier.

Napoleon. A Life. Andrew Roberts.

Napoleon ended the schism and restored the Catholic Church to France by the Concordat in 1801. He insured freedom of religions and equality to the Protestant sects, and he declared France the homeland of the Jews, after it became obvious he could not establish their national home in Palestine.

Among his achievements:

  1. The Concordat of 1801 (an agreement with the Pope - Catholic became the state religion, guaranteed the freedom of workshop, clergy became civil servants paid and appointment by the government.
  2. Ownership of land and property: free ownership of land and other property. Pesants were to retain the land and other property acquired durin gthe French Revolution.
  3. Reorganized the Administration structure of France.
  4. Education Reforms: Napoleon set up secondary schools, semi-military schools, found the University of France.
  5. Commerce and Industry. Created a central Bank of France in 1800 to give loans to traders and manufacturers. By 1815, there were more than 2000 mills employing 40,000 people.
  6. Agricultural Development, which included land reclamation and drainage of swamps and promotion of modern farming methods.
  7. Financial Reforms: Stabilized the currency on gold standard system. Established the Bank of France in 1800.
  8. Tax Reforms.
  9. The Code Napoleon. He appointed a committee of lawyers who simplified laws such as:
    1. The criminal code.
    2. The civil code
    3. The commercial code
    4. The military code.
    5. The Penal Code.
  10. Modernzed the army.
  11. The Legion of Honour: Award given to men who rendered distinguished services to the state.
  12. A New Constitution: Between 1800 and 1810, Napoleon issued a new constitution and created new executives. Separate the powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary. Provided for Human Rights, freedom of worship, press and association.
  13. Career Open to Talents: Promoted the revolutionary principles of equality. Napoleon abolished the social class that existed in Franceprior to 1799.He used ability and performance as standards for position and responsibilities.

Jews and the French State

France.In 1806, on July 26, Napoleon formed the Conference of Notables to deal with the relationships of the Jews and the French State. It consisted of 112 deputies from all parts of the French empire. At the assembly, which was led by the financier Abraham Furtado and the Alsatian Rabbi Joseph David Sinzheim, the delegates were confronted with a questionnaire on polygamy, usury, loyalty, and intermarriage.

Pleased with their answers, NapoleLes Decisions Doctrinales du Grand Sanhedrin. 1806-1807. on decided to re-establish the Sanhedrin under his careful direction, with representatives from all congregations. The Grand Sanhedrin was comprised of 70 men, plus the high priest, who served as its president. The members came from the chief priests, scribes and elders, but there is no record on how they were chosen. Even though the assembly was to be held on the Sabbath, they decided to attend and not risk the wrath of the Emperor.

This system brought together all the Jews of France in a single centralized organization -- something communities throughout the country, destabilized by emancipation and its aftermath, needed.

My primary desire was to liberate the Jews and make them full citizens. I wanted to confer upon them all the legal rights of equality, liberty and fraternity as was enjoyed by the Catholics and Protestants. It is my wish that the Jews be treated like brothers as if we were all part of Judaism. As an added benefit, I thought that this would bring to France many riches because the Jews are numerous and they would come in large numbers to our country where they would enjoy more privileges than in any other nation. Without the events of 1814, most of the Jews of Europe would have come to France where equality, fraternity and liberty awaited them and where they can serve the country like everyone else.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Beginning in 1812, Napoleon began to encounter the first significant defeats of his military career, suffering through a disastrous invasion of Russia that ended with his troops retreating from Moscow and much of Europe uniting against him. He then lost Spain to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula War, and endured total defeat against an allied force by 1814 when his broken forces gave up.

In 1814 the Bourbons overthrew Napoleon's rule and banished him to the Mediterranean island of Elba. After exile, he escaped to France in March 1815, reclaimed his emperor title, Napoleon I, in a period known as the Hundred Days. He raised a new Grand Army that enjoyed temporary success before its crushing defeat at Waterloo against an allied force under Wellington on June 18, 1815.

Napoleon's Return from Elba. March 7, 1815

Napoleon's Return from Elba.

On the eve of leaving France for Elba Napoleon said to his friends: "I shall return with the violets," and this sentence was sufficient for his sympathizers. Not only were the flowers worn by the Bonapartists, men and women, as a badge, but violet ribbons and jewelry in the form of the flower were used to display their feeling. Napoleon was afterward spoken of and toasted as "Pana la Violette." "Aimezvous la violette?" was the question by whnch an Imperialist might be known, for a simple reply in the affirmative showed ignorance of the plots for Napoleon's return to France; While the: answer: "Eh-bein! elle reviendra au printemps" indicated a confederate and fellow conspirator.

When it was forbidden by law to sell portraits of Napoleon his friends ingeniously evaded the proscription by publishing the picture of a group of violets with their leaves so arranged that in their outlines the profiles ot the initiated.

When the end came and Napoleon was about to depart for St. Helena, we are told that he gave a violet to an English naval officer—an intimation, of return to his beloved France. During the Bourbon ascendancy it was dangerous to wear a violet in public, as naturally it continued to be regarded as the Napoleonic flower.

At the time of the second Empire the popularity of the violet again revived, and, singularly enough, when Bonis Napoleon was a orisoner in the fortress of Ham, a package of violet plants having arrived, some of the officials were so busy planting them in pots that the prisoner made his escape. This incident probably gave further favor to the violet, and during the reign of Napoleon III, the violet trade flourished greatly in France. 6,000,000 bunches, it has been stated, being the annual sale in Paris alone.

Napoleon on the ship Ville de Paris

Napoleon I was exiled to Longwood, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, off the Coast of Africa., but not before establishing a period in the history of France which saw mass expansion of its territories. He died in 1821 in exile at the age of fifty-two on the island.

Memorial de Sainte Helene: Journal of the Private Life and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon at Saint HelenaMemorial de Saint Helene. Emperor Napoleon at Saint Helena.

Memorial de Sainte Helene.

in June 1815, he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon’s defeat ultimately signaled the end of France’s domination of Europe.

He abdicated for a second time and was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, where he lived out the rest of his days.

He died at age 52 on May 5, 1821.

December 4, 1887, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A

The Mysterious Disappearance of His Fabulous Wealth.

Washington Herald. One of the most remarkable historical incidents of this century was the disappearance of the First Napoleon's enormous fortune. In 1810 he was far and away the richest individual in the world. He came out of the Italian campaign ending in 1800 with $4,000,000, accordinghis his own account. This he maintained was his private property. Taking the statements he made to his friends and others at St. Helena, he must have had hidden away when he left France the last time the enormous sum of $40,000,000, or 200,000,000 francs! This would make him very 'much the wealthiest man in the world, for that sum then was equal in influence to $200,000, 000 now. No sovereign of his time could begin to approach him in personal fortune. Marshal Soult, the last of the Imperial Marshals (who died in November, 1851, just about a year before the great antagonist, the Duke of Wellington), told a venerable French officer, who repeated it to the writer, that when the Emperor went to Elba he had 60,000,000 francs covered up in Paris alone.

Of the $12,000,000 hard cash paid over at onetime by the United States to Napoleon as First Consul in 1803, it was common rumor-- not very general, you may be sure, however— that 7,500,000 francs of the sum was never accounted for in vouchers. This might easily have been. Napoleon was then First Consul for life. He could do just what he chose, and nobody dared call him to account.

African Islands, including St. Helena. 1897

Ascension Islands.

It is not very difficult to hide money in large sums, too, so it cannot be found, be the search ever so careful. Ferdinand Ward has some millions thus covered un, and no hnman being has ever yet found a clue to the stolen treasure. It was said and believed by many people, too, that Stephen Girard, of Philadelphia, had a large sum in his hands belonging to Napoleon I, which he would have handed over to him had he succeeded in getting away to the United States after Waterloo, as he tried to do. Louis XVIII, through through his Minister of Finance did all in his power to discover this hidden treasure, but those who knew would never tell." They probably took it themselves when the Emperor died in 1821; But it is a very interesting and romantic story, the disappearance absolutely of the greatest fortune in the world's history up to that time, leaving not a trace behind.

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