Tag Archives: Napoleon
… the fever into which the Western mind is thrown by the affair at N. Orleans …threatens to overbear our peace. in this situation we are obliged to call on you for a temporary sacrifice of yourself … I shall tomorrow nominate you to the Senate for an extraordinary mission to France, & the circumstances are such as to render it impossible to decline; because the whole public hope will be rested on you … in the mean time pray work night & day to arrange your affairs for a temporary absence; perhaps for a long one.
To James Monroe, January 10, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes, leaders have to demand sacrifices of trusted lieutenants.
“.. the affair at N. Orleans” concerning the “Western mind” was customs-free shipping through the port of New Orleans and open traffic on the Mississippi River. The first had been withdrawn by Spain; the second faced a threat from France’s pending takeover of Louisiana, giving her partial control over the river and full control of the port.
American Ambassador Robert Livingston had been in France for some time, hoping to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans or some other land at the mouth of the Mississippi for duty-free shipping. Under the best circumstances, round trip communication between the U.S. and Paris took two months. The President thought Livingston might need help and dispatched a trusted protege.
Jefferson usually left the decision whether to take an offered job up to the individual. Not this time! He called on Monroe “for a temporary sacrifice of yourself.” The importance of the task made it “impossible to decline.” Success might rest on him. He was to get his affairs in order and depart immediately. He might be gone a short time, maybe a long time.
Monroe sailed for France on March 9, but the day before he arrived in Paris, Napoleon’s government offered all of Louisiana to Ambassador Livingston. Monroe’s purpose in going was now moot, but the two ambassadors negotiated the terms of the massive land deal.
“…our sincere appreciation for your excellent portrayal of Thomas Jefferson …”
Superintendent, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Let Mr. Jefferson be excellent for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
Having been, like him [Napoleon], intrusted with the happiness of my country, I feel the blessing of resembling him in no other point. I have not caused the death of five or ten millions …the devastation of other countries, the depopulation of my own, the exhaustion of its resources, the destruction of its liberties, nor its foreign subjugation. All this he has done to render more illustrious the atrocities perpetrated for illustrating [adorning] himself and his family with plundered diadems [crowns] and scepters [emblems of authority].
To Count Dugnani, February 14, 1818
Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 625
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Overly ambitious leaders ruin people and nations.
Jefferson observed that he and Napoleon had the same responsibility, the happiness of their nations. What were the outcomes of Napoleon’s “leadership”?
– Millions dead
– Countries devastated
– population decimated
– resources exhausted
– liberties destroyed
– domination by foreigners
And for what purpose? All to add trappings of power over others to himself and his family.
In the next post, September 16, Jefferson will contrast Napoleon’s “accomplishments” with his own.
“Your opening keynote for our convention had the audience spellbound … “
Program Chair, MO Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science
Your audience will be spellbound, too. Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739
My hope of preserving peace for our country is not founded in the greater principles of non-resistance under every wrong, but in the belief that a just and friendly conduct on our part will procure justice and friendship from others. In the existing contest, each of the combatants will find an interest in our friendship. I cannot say we shall be unconcerned spectators of this combat. We feel for human sufferings, and we wish the good of all. We shall look on, therefore, with the sensations which these dispositions and the events of the war will produce.
To the Earl of Buchan, July 10, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders value neutrality and pick their battles wisely.
Jefferson strongly resisted America’s involvement in the disputes between other nations. He expressed that sentiment in this letter about the conflict Napoleon was wreaking on Europe. He wrote again that he would “bless the Almighty Being” who put an ocean between the two continents, a natural barrier sparing the United States from Europe’s wars.
Americans would not be “unconcerned spectators.” We would grieve their suffering and look forward to its end.
Jefferson was not a pacifist, but unless conflict directly threatened the United States, we would remain concerned by-standers only. Perhaps our example of “justice and friendship” toward all combatants would bring the same response toward us.
Thomas Jefferson had both wisdom and wit for your 21st century audience.
Invite him to speak. Call Patrick Lee, 573-657-2739