Monday, April 4, 2011

Napoleon Abdicates (1st Time)

'The Chamber formed itself into a secret committee, before which the ministers laid the full extent of the disaster, and announced that the emperor had named Caulaincourt, Fouche, and Carnot, as commissioners to treat of peace with the allies. The ministers were bluntly reminded by the Republican members, and particularly by Henry Lacoste, that they had no basis for any negotiations which could be proposed in the emperor's name, since the allied powers had declared war against Napoleon, who was now in plain terms pronounced, by more than one member, the sole obstacle betwixt the nation and peace. Universal applause followed from all parts of the hall, and left Lucien no longer in doubt, that the representatives intended to separate their cause from that of his brother. He omitted no art of conciliation or entreaty, and,—more eloquent probably in prose than in poetry,—appealed to their love of glory, their generosity, their fidelity, and the oaths which they had so lately sworn. We have been faithful," replied Fayette; "we have followed your brother to the sands of Egypt— to the snows of Russia. The bones of Frenchmen, scattered in every region, attest our fidelity." All seemed to unite in one sentiment, that the abdication of Bonaparte was a measure absolutely necessary. Davoust, the minister at war, arose, and disclaimed, with protestations, any intention of acting against the freedom or independence of the Chamber. This was, in fact, to espouse their cause. A committee of five members was appointed to concert measures with ministers. Even the latter official persons, though named by the emperor, were not supposed to be warmly attached to him. Carnot and Fouche were the natural leaders of the popular party, and Caulaincourt was supposed to be on indifferent terms with Napoleon, whose ministers, therefore, seemed to adopt the interest of the Chamber in preference to his. Lucien saw that his brother's authority was ended, unless it could be maintained by violence. The Chamber of Peers might have been more friendly to the imperial cause, but their constitution gave them as little confidence in themselves as weight with the public. They adopted the three first resolutions of the Lower Chamber, and named a committee of public safety.'

On April 4, 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated from his position as Emperor. The text above from Walter Scott's "Life of Napoleon Buonaparte" gives some of the background.

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