Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general during the French Revolution and the ruler of France, first as "First Consul of the French Republic" and then, after 1804, as "Emperor of the French". Today, he may be most known for the extensive European wars during which he commanded French armies, finally being defeated in 1815.
He spread some of the policies of the French Revolution to other parts of the world, but reversed others, such as by reinstituting slavery in the French colonies and prohibiting interracial marriages.
"Years later, questioned by his friend Truguet about what he had done in Saint-Domingue, an enraged Bonaparte declared that, had he been in Martinique during the Revolution, he would have supported the English rather than accept an end to slavery. “I am for the whites because I am white; I have no other reason, and that one is good,” he said. “How is it possible that liberty was given to Africans, to men who had no civilization, who did not even know what the colony was, what France was? It is perfectly clear that those who wanted the freedom of the blacks wanted the slavery of the whites." See also Haiti.
Continuing policies from the French Revolution, Napoleon removed previous restrictions on Jews, sometimes referred to as Jewish emancipation. However, he also in 1808 issued the "Infamous Decree", which among other measures restricted Jewish money lending, annulled certain debts owed to Jews by non-Jewish debtors, and encouraged Jews to work in agriculture and craftsmanship. The motives for these actions have been debated. Less politically views include that Napoleon hoped to gain support from Jews, privately expressed anti-Semitic views, wished to stop activities such as argued exploitative usury against non-Jews, and thought that giving Jews equal rights and responsibilities would cause assimilation and even the disappearance of Jews as a separate group. See also Jewish question.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: Napoleon I
- Encyclopedia.com: Napoleon I
- Encyclopedia.com: Emperor of France Napoleon I
Napoleon and Jews
- Laurent Dubois. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804.
- Napoleon and the Jews https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Napoleon_and_the_Jews&oldid=849269442