The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson
BONAPARTE, NAPOLEON / ENEMY OF REPUBLICANISM
I am in general extremely unwilling to be carried into the
newspapers, no matter what the subject.
With respect, however,
to so much of my letter of January 9th as relates to manufactures, I
have less repugnance, because there is perhaps a degree of duty to
avow a change of opinion called for by a change of circumstances, and
especially on a point now become peculiarly interesting.
What relates to Bonaparte stands on different ground.
I have grieved to see even good republicans so infatuated as to
this man, as to consider his downfall as calamitous to the cause of
liberty. In their indignation against England which is just, they seem
to consider all her enemies as our friends, when it is well known
there was not a being on earth who bore us so deadly a hatred. In
fact, he saw nothing in this world but himself, and looked on the
people under him as his cattle, beasts for burden and slaughter.
Promises cost him nothing when they could serve his purpose. On his
return from Elba, what did he not promise? But those who had credited
them a little, soon saw their total insignificance, and, satisfied
they could not fall under worse hands, refused every effort after the
defeat of Waterloo. Their present sufferings will have a term; his
iron despotism would have had none. France has now a family of fools
at its head, from whom, whenever it can shake off its foreign riders,
it will extort a free Constitution, or dismount them and establish
some other on the solid basis of national right.
to Benjamin Austin, 9 February 1816