Sunday, 24 January 2010

Walker Art Gallery: Delaroche - Napoleon Crossing the Alps

One of the prized paintings in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

The painting was produced at the request of an Englishman, Arthur George, 3rd Earl of Onslow, a collector of Napoleonic memorabilia.

Apparently he was walking in the Louvre with Delaroche when they stopped before the famous David painting, which he said was over dramatic, and he asked Delaroche to produce a more realistic painting - or so the story goes.

In the event Delaroche produced two versions - one went across the Atlantic and is now in the Louvre. The other went to the Earl of Onslow and ultimately to the Liverpool gallery. Queen Victoria also acquired a copy.

The Walker's comentary notes

Perhaps surprisingly, there were many admirers of Napoleon in Britain, associating his memory either with enlightened progress in opposition to reactionary monarchy or alternatively with military genius. His brutal suppression of nations, huge military losses and genocidal colonial policy were somehow glossed over.

Clearly I do not share the writer's surprise. Nineteenth century upper class Englishmen had a very different view of the world from us. They rated military prowess rather more highly than we do, and some, like Churchill, rather regretted the passing of an age in which they could fight wars against other Europeans, rather than against the lesser races. Most would certainly not have dreamed of criticising Napoleon for his colonial policies, and indeed it would have been rather hypocritical for them to have done so!

Apparently Delaroche's painting was not to everyone's taste. A reviewer for the Athenaeum commented that it had a truth

which will be dear to those who exalt the Dutch School for like qualities into the foremost rank of excellence. But the lofty and daring genius that led the humble Lieutenant of Ajaccio to be ruler and arbiter of the destinies of the larger part of Europe will be sought in vain by M. Delaroche.

Personally I prefer this painting to the David image - but then I have always admired the Dutch school - probably a result of my Roundhead East Anglian origins! Probably explains the colour (or lack of it) of this blog.

Friday, 22 January 2010

An Indefatigable English Woman's Gift to the Emperor

Anne Seymour Damer, sculptress (1748-1828). Among her works were busts of Fox and Nelson.

Her husband had committed suicide after only 7 years of marriage, probably more because of his ruinous gambling debts than marital unhappiness.

She never remarried, and was the subject of gossip because of her close relationships with other women and her rather masculine style of dress.

Among her friends were Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire and Lord and Lady Hamilton. She was with Lady Hamilton when Nelson arrived in Naples after his victory in the Battle of the Nile, and as his their friendship, and presumably his relationship with Lady Hamilton developed, he soon agreed to sit for her.

She became a keen supporter of Fox, and of the Foxite Whigs who tended to oppose the war with France and to support American Independence. Fox agreed to sit for her after she and Georgiana had campaigned for him in an election.

On a visit to France in 1803 she met Madame de Stael, Mademe Recamier, Napoleon's mother, the Empress Josephine (whom she had met previously) and at last, to her great delight, Napoleon himself.

Having waited for some time to present her bust of Charles James Fox to Napoleon, she seized the opportunity after his flight from Elba. The fact that England and France were technically at war did not stop her. So this indefatigable lady of some 66 years delivered the bust to Napoleon at the Elysee Palace on May 1st 1815, not long before Waterloo.

According to a notice that appeared in the Times, Napoleon told her that if Fox had lived there would have been peace, that the debt of England would have been less than a million, and that many thousands of men would still be alive.

Her gestue was evidently not universally popular. In the same edition of the Times, the Moniteur reported that some idiotical English woman presented to the Corsican the Bust of Charles James Fox.

In return Napoleon gave her an enamelled snuff box, with his portrait on the lid, set in a circle of 27 diamonds.

Napoleon arrived in England before Mrs Damer got back - although of course he was not allowed to land. Her friend, Miss Berry wrote somewhat disapprovingly to her on July 23 1815:

You little thought that your friend at Paris would be in England before yourself, and that your bust may return to that country it never ought to have left, without going out of the possession of the person to whom you gave it.

Clearly Miss Berry thought that Napoleon would be allowed to stay in England: strict confinement and security for his person seems all that is thought of for him she wrote.

She left the snuff box to the British Museum.

At least one other Napoleonic snuff box is there - that which he left in his will to Lady Holland, a snuff box which had been given to him by the Pope.

The bust is now at Malmaison.

Lady Holland's Snuff Box - a brief note

Napoleon seems to have given or tried to give at least four snuff boxes to English people in gratitude for their kindnesses to him. As well as the two covered here he presented one to Dr Arnott who attended him in his last days, and he gave another to the Rev Boys for burying Cipriani, who was of course a Roman Catholic.

Rev Boys reluctantly felt he had to decline it because of Hudson Lowe's strict policy against accepting gifts from Napoleon.

Lady Holland was advised by Lord Carlyle to decline hers.

Lady, reject the gift! 'tis tinged with gore!

Those crimson spots a dreadful tale relate;

It has been grasp'd by an infernal Power;

And by that hand which seal'd young Enghien's fate.

To which Lord Byron had delivered a typical riposte.

LADY, accept the box a hero wore,

In spite of all this elegiac stuff:

Let not seven stanzas written by a bore,

Prevent your Ladyship from taking snuff!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

St Helena Sites Associated with the Captivity of Napoleon

Hutts Gate - somewhere opposite this building apparently lie the ruins of a house in which the Bertrands lived before their cottage at Longwood was complete.

The childrens' nurse, Mrs Dickson, later kept a store at Hutts Gate and was there to greet Arthur Bertrand in 1840.

It was here that Napoleon, ill and exhausted, got into his carriage after his final outing to see Sir William Doveton at Sandy Bay.

I believe Napoleon first discovered Sane Valley (where he was to be buried at his own request), when visiting the Bertrands here.

Obviously anyone whose interest in Napoleon takes them to St Helena will focus on the three French properties. There are however other sites such as Hutts Gate which such visitors will probably wish to explore.

Two years ago I intended to produce a comprehensive list of these, but found that I had not visited all of them, had few worthwhile images to share, and also realised that my knowledge was fragmentary at best. So it was never published.

I would have found this useful when planning my visit to St Helena and so, imperfect as it is, I shall now publish it. Michel Martineau's own blog contains a number of excellent photographs of these sites, but you have to search a little to find them. The visit of the Friends of Malmaison in 2003 is also worth a look. It contains a picture of a bearded Honorary French Consul looking rather older I think than he does now!

Maldivia House, home of Major Hodson, son in law of William Doveton. Napoleon visited this house whilst staying at the Briars. This has been covered in a number of previous posts.

Rosemary Plain/Rosemary Hall - This house was occupied by the Austrian and Russian Commissioners, Stürmer and Balmain. I never managed to identify this building. Montchenu the French Commissioner, the butt of everyone's jokes, lived in cheaper accommodation in Jamestown opposite Porteous House.

Fishers Valley/Valley of the Nymph The Nymph, Mary Anne Robinson, was the daughter of a farmer who lived in the valley and was spotted by Napoleon on one of his rides and given this name. (1) I believe that ruins of the farm house are still there.

Teutonic Hall Previously known as Mason's Stock House. The property of wealthy landowner Miss Mason, who always treated Napoleon effusively. Apparently she used to ride an oxen. She was still alive when the party came to recover the Emperor's body in the Belle Poule in 1840.

Porteous House The lodging house in Jamestown close to the castle in which Napoleon spent his first night. The building was destroyed by fire in the late nineteenth century.

Farm Lodge Apparently Hudson Lowe considered moving Napoleon there in 1818; but Gourgaud, in the period when he was cooperating with Lowe and trying to engineer a direct passage back to Europe, suggested that Longwood was easier to guard. (2) It is now a pleasant hotel.

Mount Pleasant - Sandy Bay, home of Sir William Doveton, to which Napoleon made his last outing on 4th October 1820. This has been covered in a number of posts.

Rock Rose - The house in which Count las Cases and his son, and later Gourgaud were housed by the Governor prior to their leaving the island.

Bertrand's Cottage - across the road from Longwood; now in the hands of the St Helena National trust; here Napoleon used to watch with his telescope the horse races that took place on Deadwood Plain. This has been covered in a number of posts.

Longwood New House - the house built for Napoleon close to Bertrands Cottage - as it may have looked in the nineteenth century! The house was demolished after the war. The modern visitor will just have to try to imagine it. It is virtually impossible to do so. Agricultural buildings now occupy its site.

The house itself was pre-fabricated, sent over from England and, after much delay, virtually completed in December 1820. Napoleon had always said he would not live there, and shortly before his death had been upset by the iron railings that Lowe had had installed. In the last hours of Napoleon's illness Lowe and his assistant Major Gideon Gorrequer waited there anxiously for news. Lowe had refused to believe that Napoleon was seriously ill until almost the end.

1. Miss Robinson may have visited Longwood a few times; she certainly brought her newly married husband to say goodbye to Napoleon in July 1817. He was a sea captain named John Ives Edwards. Captain Edwards called on the Bertrands in 1821 just before Napoleon's death. Apparently he told them that the English people had no wish to keep Napoleon at St. Helena, and they felt that the ignoble way in which the Emperor was being treated was a slur on them. So at least Bertrand recorded in his secret diary.

2. The Las Cases had been sent to Cape Town, and had not had a very pleasant experience there before getting back to Europe. Gourgaud apparently wished to avoid this at almost any cost.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Belle Poule and the Exhumation of Napoleon

Time for something totally different.

I have covered the Exhumation iof Napolon's body in 1840 in an earlier post (8th March 2008), but now will take another look at it from the eyes of a not very sympathetic British observer on St Helena.

Sir John Henry Lefroy, KCMG, CB, FRS, (28 January 1817 – 11 April 1890) was a British military officer and later colonial administrator (sometime governor of Bermuda and Tasmania).

As a young Lieutenant he was sent to St. Helena to study magnetic phenomena.

He was permitted to witness the exhumation of Napoleon but was not among the select few allowed into the tent to see the opening of the coffin. He chose also not to join the funeral procession or to see the embarkation of the coffin on board the Belle Poule.

In his recollection he claimed that the Governor, Major General Middlemore, a veteran of the Peninsular War, had hated the whole thing, had shut himself up at Plantation House (he is usually held to have been ill!), and had presumably conveniently left all the negotiations to Colonel Hamelin Trelawney, R.A. (1)

Despite his own lack of sympathy, Leroy was generally impressed with the Prince de Joinville whom he described as a fine young man, about six feet three inches in height .. He declined society, and went about in his loose white trousers, old coat, and tarpaulin hat ..

Leroy asked him if he might show him around the house (Longwood presumably), to which the Prince, who Leroy says was proficient in English and Spanish, bizarrely replied - Thank you, sare, I never drink wine.

Leroy was amused that the French party wanted relics: Handfuls of earth, water from Napoleon's spring, leaves, flowers, bulbs ..

In a letter to his sister, dated October 17th 1840, which reflects his feelings at the time, he described somewhat disrespectfully but maybe not atypically, the removal of Boney's remains. In a neat turn of phrase he noted that corruption and the worm had spared him who had given them so many a banquet .
His description of the scene of the exhumation is evocative:
.. the midnight formed as picturesque a scene as I have ever witnessed. The sentries posted on the hills, the black labourers, the soldiers of the guard and working party, mixed up with the muffled figures of the authorities attending, in the imperfect light of the lanterns by which they worked, would have formed a scene for Rembrandt.

He also expressed his disapproval of the way the Governor had in his view ceded to the demands of the French party:
Minute guns were fired all the way, and a royal salute from the battery, but not from the English man-of-war. However, with this latter exception, everything was done as if he were emperor, a thing we never acknowledged before, which makes the amende to France, and directly inculpates all preceding governments. I would have stuck to the "General Bonaparte" as long as there was "a shot in the locker".

Finally he referred to the ongoing diplomatic dispute between England and France over Syria - a declaration of war was daily expected .. - which, to the great amusement of Thackeray(2), was to cause so much concern to the Belle Poule on its journey back to France. Apparently the Belle Poule was not the only ship to panic over this: an English merchant vessel arrived at St Helena as the French were firing salutes; the crew clearly thought they were attacking the island, and the ship fled for her life. Likewise, as the Belle Poule left St Helena, Littlehales, in H.M.S. Dolphin followed her at a safe distance, determined if he got a chance to pitch a shell or two into "old Boney's coffin".

The letter concludes somewhat abruptly and, in view of the foregoing, a little strangely:

The French behaved handsomely.

An interesting insight I felt into relations between two countries which had often been at war over eight centuries. You would never have guessed from this account that peace between them had finally broken out!
1. The source for this piece is A.D. Thiessen, "The Removal of Napoleon's Remains from St. Helena to France, October 1840", Journal of the Royal Astronomcal Society of Canada , Vol 36, p 66
2. William Makepeace Thackeray, The Second Funeral of Napoleon

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Madame Récamier: The Lady who said No

Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Bernard Récamier (1777 -1849), perhaps the most celebrated beauty of her age.

Born in Lyons, she married Monsieur Récamier in 1793. She was 15 and he was 42.

It was never more than a formal marriage. Some believe that her husband was in fact her natural father, and that he married her simply to ensure that she should inherit his wealth in the uncertain times of the Revolution.

She was painted by David and sculpted by Canova.

She entranced Napoleon and Wellington in turn, and turned them both down. (1)

She has given her name to the reclining sofa on which she was painted by David.

I myself came across her by a rather circuitous route. A Christmas present introduced me to W.G. Sebald. In his Rings of Saturn I discovered the sad tale of Charlotte Ives and the French writer Chateaubriand whom the young Charlotte fell in love with while he was exiled in Bungay (which happened to be my father's home town) during the French Revolution. I moved on to Chateaubriand's Mémoires d'outre-tombe, and this led me to his close friend Madame Récamier, and so back to Napoleon, to whom so many roads always seem to lead.

Madame Récamier and Napoleon

Madame Récamier met Napoleon twice only. In December 1797 she was present when the Directory honoured him on his triumphant return from Italy. She stood while everyone else was seated to get a better view; the crowd murmured, presumably at her beauty; Napoleon turned and gave her a harsh look; she sat down. It seems that he never forgot her.

In 1799 she met Lucien Bonaparte who often visited her at her home in Clichy. Lucien became besotted with her and pursued her unsuccessfully; he wrote her letters from "Romeo to Juliette" !

Her next meeting with Napoleon was at function given by Lucien. She was pleasantly surprised by him and felt that the simplicity of his manners was in contrast to Lucien's.

She was struck by the tenderness he showed towards his niece: While he was talking with persons about him, he held the hand of Lucien's little daughter, a child of four years, whom he at last forgot. The child, tired of her captivity, began to cry. "Ah. pauvre petite!" he exclaimed, in a tone of regret, "I had forgotten thee." (2)

When Lucien approached, Napoleon said, And I too would like to go to Clichy. Fouché, Napoleon's Chief of Police, told her The First Consul thinks you charming.

At dinner, after she had failed to take the vacant seat beside him, Napoleon loudly described her as the most beautiful, and after dinner he came up to her and asked

Why did you not take the seat next to me?

I should not have presumed she replied.

It was your place, he said.

At the after dinner concert he made her uncomfortable by staring at her, and afterwards he approached her: You are very fond of music, madame?. Then Lucien appeared and Napoleon moved away.

A friend of Napoleon's liberal critic Madame de Stael, Madame Récamier turned against Napoleon when he exiled the latter, and her salon was seen as a centre of opposition. Nevertheless she remained on cordial terms with Napoleon's sisters Maria (Madame Bacciocchi ) and Caroline (the Queen of Naples, wife of Murat).

In 1805 Fouché and Caroline Bonaparte tried to get her to accept a position at court, probably in part to counter the influence of Josephine. Fouché told her: since the day he [Napoleon] first met you, he has never forgotten you; and though he complains that you have ranged yourself among his enemies, he does not blame you, but your friends. (3) Around this time she twice accepted an offer to use Caroline's box at the theatre; by coincidence or otherwise Napoleon was present both times and fixed his spy glass on her.

Fouché was very angry when she turned the offer down.

Exiled in 1811-1814, she visited the King and Queen of Naples (Murat and Caroline Bonaparte) as the empire was tottering. On the way she met Fouché who was also headed to Naples to try to keep Murat and Caroline on Napoleon's side. She was there when Murat told his wife that he had sided with Austria and England. Later, whilst the defeated Napoleon was on his way to Elba, she was called back to Naples by Caroline, and stayed with her several days.

On Napoleon's short lived return to Paris in 1815 she decided not to flee.

She received a note from Hortense, Napoleon's step daughter, saying she hoped she would not leave Paris: You may trust to me to take care of your interests. I am convinced that I will not even have occasion to show you how delighted I should be to be useful to you. (4)

She also received a letter from Caroline offering her refuge in Naples. In the event she had nothing to fear. Napoleon himself got her close friend, fervent admirer and formerly strong critic of the Emperor, Benjamin Constant, to draft the new constitution.

Madame Récamier and Wellington

During the restoration in 1814 she met Wellington at Madame de Stael's. She also introduced him to Queen Hortense, Napoleon's step daughter, who at that stage was supporting the restoration of the Bourbons.

Wellington was clearly as entranced by Madame Récamier as Napoleon had been. He wrote a number of letters to her including this on June 13th 1814:

.. every time I see you, I leave more deeply impressed with your charms and less disposed to give my attention to politics!!! I shall call upon you tomorrow .. in spite of the effect such dangerous visits have upon me.

He was to call on her again after Waterloo: I have given him a good beating, he said. Despite her opposition to Napoleon she was disgusted by this remark and refused to receive him.

Her account is worth reading:

I see him again after the battle of Waterloo. He calls upon me the day after his return. I did not expect him. My annoyance at this visit. He comes back in the evening and finds my door closed. I refuse also to see him the next day. .. They say he is very much taken up with a young English lady, wife of one of his aides-de-camp.

Dinner at the Queen of Sweden's with her [de Stael] and the Duke of Wellington, whom I then see again. His coolness to me; his attention to the young English lady. I am placed at dinner between him and the Duke de Broglie. He is sullen at the beginning of dinner, but grows animated, and finishes by being very agreeable. I perceive the annoyance of the young English lady seated opposite us. .. I see the Duke of Wellington very seldom.


1. Strange that Napoleon and Wellington seemed to be attracted to the same women. They shared at least two mistresses, the actress Mlle George, who has appeared in this blog on other occasions, and who apparently offered to accompany Napoleon to St Helena, and the Italian contralto, Giuseppina Grassini.

2. Memoirs and correspondence of Madame Récamier   Translated from the French and Edited by By Isaphene M. Luyster p. 18-19.

3. Memoirs p. 52

4. Memoirs p. 111

5. Memoirs p. 106

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Rachel: "I prefer renters to owners"

Elisabeth Rachel Félix, French tragédienne, 1821-1858

- first a great Jewess, second a great actress, and third a great lover (1)

- two sons and no husband, innumerable lovers, a million and a quarter francs, and a reputation as a tragic actress which has never been overshadowed (2)

She was born in Switzerland to travelling pedlars.

A slight Piaf like figure, she was spotted with her sister when they were sent to sing and recite in Paris cafes.

She appeared at the Théâtre-Français at the age of 17, and soon reached the top of her profession.

She performed in London and was received by Queen Victoria; she also toured Belgium, Holland, Prussia, Russia and latterly the United States.

But for my research on the Bertrand family I probably would never have come across Rachel, nor James Agate who, in a characteristic turn of phrase, remarks that ambition sent her rummaging among imperial debris. (3)

Indeed, among her many lovers were Napoleon III, Napoleon's natural son, the then widowed Count Walewski (with whom she had a son, Alexandre Antoine Colonne Walewski 1844-1898) and Prince Napoleon (Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte). But that was not all.

Rachel and the Belle Poule

She also had relationships with two members of the Belle Poule expedition that brought Napoleon's body back to France in 1840. First was the leader of the expedition, the Prince of Joinville (1818-1900), son of Louis Philippe, who sent Rachel a visiting card on which he had written:

Ou? - Quand? - Combien?

Her reply was equally short and to the point:

Chez toi - Ce soir. - Pour rien.

More significant was her relationship with Arthur Bertrand, who had been born on St Helena in 1817, and as a young child had been a favourite of Napoleon in his latter years. Arthur returned to St Helena with his father to get Napoleon's body in 1840. His mother had died a few years earlier.

Agate describes Arthur thus:
the gambler broken at twenty-two, with a baby face which could blush as easily as a girl's and the habit of borrowing from his mistresses the money to pay his debts. (4)

At the age of 17 Arthur had begun a relationship with the comedienne Pauline-Virginie Déjazet, who was 36. His mother Fanny approved of this relationship, and had sent her another of those locks of Napoleon's hair! This affair appears to have lasted until he met Rachel in 1840.

Arthur's relationship with Rachel lasted after a fashion for eight years. They had a son Gabriel Victor Felix who was born in 1848. Unlike Count Walewski, Arthur never acknowledged the son as his. He never married and died in 1871. Gabriel fought in the Franco-German war, and died in 1889 in Brazzaville where he was serving as the French Consul .

Rachel and Mlle George

Mlle George, herself a leading actress, and the former lover of Napoleon and Wellington had by the 1840's fallen on hard times, so she went to see Rachel to ask her to perform in a benefit. Rachel refused to see her, but asked her to write instead, to which Mlle George responded:
I have been as big an actress as Rachel and as great
a whore. It's true that I'm starving, that I owe ten francs to my porter, that I've sold the Emperor's diamonds to my pawnbroker ..But I will not write to Rachel.

In the event Rachel did agree to appear at the benefit, but on stage the older actress deliberately set out to humiliate the young pretender. Most of the audience hissed Rachel, and she left the theatre without even taking a curtain call!

Rachel's Waterloo

Rachel's final tour was to the United States. It was not a success. American audiences had little appreciation of French tragedy, and her health was failing. She moved on to Havana from where in 1855 she wrote using Napoleonic imagery:

Thus it comes about that I must bring my poor routed army back to the Seine. It is in my mind that I am coming home to die and, like Napoleon, shall come to the Invalides to demand a stone whereon to lay my head." (6)
On her return she wrote to a journalist denying that she was going to marry:
I am thirty-two, my face tells me I am fifty, and we won't say anything about the rest. Eigthteen years of classical tirades, scamperings from one end of the world to the other, retreats from Moscow and betrayals at Waterloo .. (7)

She made her last journey on Prince Napoleon's yacht from Marseilles to le Cannet. She died of consumption in 1858. Despite rumours to the contrary she remained a Jewess, although she had had both her sons baptised as Catholics.

So ends my rummaging amongst the imperial debris. Others may wish to explore the Walewski/Felix descendants on the family website.


1. James Agate, Rachel (NY/London 1924, Reissued 1969) p. 14. Agate was a distinguished British theatre critic in the first half of the twentieth century. This book is clearly the product of a less politically correct age e.g. " a Jewess she was to her bone and marrow, a Jewess in the worst and the best sense." (p. 91)
2. Agate p 15
3. Agate p. 81.
4. Agate p. 79.
5. Agate p. 75
6. Agate p 86.
7. Agate p. 87

Monday, 4 January 2010

Jerome's Other Family: The American Bonapartes

Elizabeth Patterson (1785-1879).

Daughter of a wealthy Baltimore merchant of Irish extraction.

The first wife of Napoleon's youngest brother, Jérôme.

Noted for her somewhat immodest attire in a rather puritanical country.

As a young officer in the French Navy, Jérôme decided to leave his ship in the Caribbean to visit the United States.

As the brother of Napoleon, he found that doors opened easily to him. He called on President Jefferson, attended a ball in Baltimore, and fell in love with Elizabeth.

They soon decided to marry, and did so on Christmas Eve 1803. He was nineteen and she eighteen.

Napoleon refused to recognise the marriage. He had other plans for Jérôme.

Over a year later they set out for Europe. Jérôme landed in Portugal and set off for Rome to try to persuade his brother to change his mind. Elizabeth proceeded to Amsterdam but on the orders of the Emperor was prevented from landing. She went instead to London where she gave birth to their son, Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte (July 5, 1805 – June 17, 1870). She never saw he husband again. (1)

Napoleon annulled the marriage and Jérôme duly married Catharina of Wurttemberg in 1807. Elizabeth returned with her son to Baltimore, and in 1808 refused a request from Jérôme to send her son to him.

She was divorced by a Special decree of the Maryland Assembly in 1815. She never remarried: she enjoyed her status as sister in law to the Great Napoleon, and made a personal fortune out of property. After 1815 she returned to Europe, where she spent many years. She felt happier amongst society in Europe, although she spent her later years back in Maryland.(2) She outlived her son.

Despite his mother's efforts to persuade him otherwise, Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in the United States, married an American and had two sons. Both attained distinction in very different walks of life.

The eldest, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (November 5, 1830 – September 3, 1893) studied at West Point , then resigned from the U.S. army to serve in the army of Napoleon III of France, and fought in the Crimean War. He received military decorations from France, Britain and Turkey. In 1871, after the fall of the Second Empire, he returned to the United States and married Caroline Le Roy Appleton Edgar. They had a daughter Louise-Eugénie Bonaparte (1873-1923), who married Count Adam Carl von Moltke-Huitfeld (1864-1944), and a son Jerome Napoleon Charles Bonaparte (see below).

The second and much younger son, Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851-1921), was a lawyer and municipal reformer, and served in the cabinet of President Theodore Roosevelt.

He first served as United States Secretary of the Navy (1905-1906), quite appropriate for a grandson of Jérôme.

He then became Attorney General (1906-1909), and was responsible for setting up the Bureau of Investigation, the forerunner of the FBI. He had no children.

The Last of the Line: Jerome Napoleon Charles Bonaparte (1878-1945)

Jerome-Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, inherited enough wealth so that he never needed to work or practice a profession. In 1921 he was apparently offered the Albanian crown, but he even turned that down, although he was not the only one to do so!

He died on November 10, 1945 in New York.

He was walking his wife's dog in Central Park and tripped over its leash. So ended the American Bonaparte male line.


1. Betsy was in Florence's Pitti gallery in 1822 when Jérôme and his second wife Catherine walked in. They did not speak.
2. Her brother's widow married Wellington's older brother. In 1908 a play Glorious Betsy , was written about her by Rida Johnson Young; this formed the basis of the film Hearts Divided (1936) starring Marion Davies.