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Chapter 5

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Bonapartes in America

by
Clarence Edward Macartney and Gordon Dorrance

published by
Dorrance and Company,
Philadelphia, 1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 7

p125 VI
The Murats

On the 13th of October, 1815, a tall handsome man of commanding presence stood in the bright Italian sunlight at Pizzo, facing a firing squad. He kissed tenderly a carnelian on which was cut the head of his wife. Then looking upon the soldiers who were facing him, he said, "Save my face. Aim at my heart." There was a crash of musketeer and Joachim Murat, one of Napoleon's most famous marshals and his greatest cavalry general, fell dead.

Joachim Murat was the son of a French innkeeper. He was born March 25, 1767, in Bastide.a Through the influence of Talleyrand, in whose family his father had been a steward, Murat was admitted to the College of Cahors as a student for holy orders. He showed, however, little aptitude for study and no fitness whatever for the priesthood. After leaving the College at Cahors, he entered another school at Toulouse. There he fell in love with a girl of the town, fought for her favors and lived with her secretly for some time. This ended his theological studies, and he enlisted in a regiment of chasseurs. He soon tired of this and leaving the army was for a time a hostler in his father's stables. The flames of the Revolution were beginning to burst forth in France, and Murat obtained an appointment in the Constitutional Guard of Louis XVI. He was then twenty‑two years of age, of martial bearing, and attractive p126in figure and face. He served through the Reign of Terror and became a major in the army of the Republic. In 1795 he met Napoleon, who took him as an aide-de‑camp to Italy, where he distinguished himself in the campaigns of 1796 and 1797.

In 1798 Napoleon took Murat with him to Egypt. At the battle of the Pyramids, he made the first of the cavalry charges for which he was famous. At Aboukir he charged in person the camp of the Turkish commander Mustapha Pasha, and taking him captive carried him off a prisoner into the French camp. In the campaign in Syria, Murat played an important part in the battle of Mt. Tabor, charging again and again through the Turkish cavalry. He seemed like one of the old crusading knights come to life again. Murat said of the battle on the plain of Esdraelon, at the foot of Mt. Tabor, where our Lord was transfigured, that in the midst of the battle he thought of Christ and His transfiguration, and that by that recollection visions of glory rose before him and his strength and courage were multiplied a hundredfold.

Returning to France with Napoleon, he took a prominent part in the stirring events of the 18th Brumaire, when he dispersed the Council of Five Hundred with sixty of his grenadiers. In 1800 he married Caroline, Napoleon's sister, who preferred him to the high-born and celebrated General Moreau, who when in disfavor with Napoleon lived for a time at Morrisville, Pennsylvania, and lost his life at the battle of Dresden fighting with the Allies against Napoleon. Murat commanded the cavalry at the battle of Marengo and henceforth p127took a prominent part in all campaigns of Napoleon. As the Governor of Paris he played a part in the tragic story of the Duc d'Enghien. In a statement, however, on the day of his death Murat declared that he was altogether innocent in the death of the Duc. In 1804 Napoleon made him a Marshal of the Empire, and for his exploits in the German campaign of 1805 he was made the Duc of Berg and Cleves. He led the cavalry in the great battles of Jena, Eylau, and Friedland, and in 1808 was made King of Naples in place of Joseph Bonaparte who was promoted to the throne of Spain.

Napoleon had Murat with him as commander of his cavalry in the disastrous Russian campaign of 1812. General de Caulaincourt, who served on Napoleon's staff in that campaign, says that Murat, who knew that the cavalry was beginning to waste away, once ventured some remarks to that effect to the Emperor. But when he saw that it displeased Napoleon he "kept to himself the wise reflections which he had voiced to us alone. He soon forgot them entirely. Always at the forefront of the skirmishers and eager to thrust his ostrich plumes and fantastic uniform beneath the very noses of the Cossacks, he succeeded in ruining the cavalry, ended by causing the loss of the army and brought France and the empire to the brink of an abyss."1

Murat was the source of never-ending wonder and admiration on the part of the Cossacks, who were amazed at his wild charges and took great delight in his p128fantastic uniform. This uniform consisted of scarlet pantaloons embroidered with gold, boots of yellow leather, and a girdle of gold brocade, from which hung a straight diamond-hilted sword. The collar of his coat was ornamented with gold, and on his head he wore a three-cornered hat surmounted by a towering plume of ostrich and heron feathers. Over this gorgeous uniform he wore in winter a cloak of green velvet lined with sable. His horse, too, was always richly caparisoned with blue trappings, and the saddle and bridle were of the richest Turkish design. When Murat and Napoleon rode the lines of the army together, men were struck with the contrast between the magnificent Murat, and Napoleon with his plain three-cornered hat, his leather breeches and his green coat. In the thickest of the fight the white plume of Murat could be seen waving above the smoke of battle.

A Cossack prisoner taken on the march to Moscow said to Napoleon, "The Cossacks like the King of Naples, for he is a brave fellow and always the first to come under fire. Word is gone round that he is not to be killed. But they do want to take him prisoner." Yet one day an imperfectly instructed Cossack fired point-blank at Murat, and henceforth he had to be more circumspect in his movements.

When Napoleon left the army on the retreat from Moscow he made Murat its commander. The choice seems to have been between the Prince Eugene and Murat. At this distance it seems an extraordinary choice, for Napoleon himself had a poor opinion of the ability of Murat. "He's a brave man on the battlefield," p129Napoleon said, "but he has no head." No doubt Napoleon was influenced by Murat's rank and standing with the soldiers, and also by the fact that Berthier, his chief of staff, recommended Murat as commander of the army. Berthier soon regretted his recommendation, said Caulaincourt, and fell sick with chagrin and mortification. Murat showed himself totally unfitted for the task of leading the army out of Russia. On January 16, 1813, he deserted the army at Posen, leaving it without a commander, and fled in disguise to Naples.

Despite this extraordinary conduct we find Murat fighting bravely by the side of Napoleon in the great battle of the nations at Leipzig. Colletta makes the claim that Murat saved Napoleon's army at Leipzig. After that campaign Murat returned to Naples and entered into an agreement with Austria, by which he was to keep his kingdom on the condition he would furnish troops for the Allies. During the Hundred Days after the escape of Napoleon from Elba, Murat made his way to France. Napoleon scorned his offer of help. After the battle of Waterloo he had a price on his head and hid in disguise for a time near Toulon. From there he made his way to Corsica, and from Corsica to Pizzo, where with a few followers, only thirty men, he hoped to start a campaign to win back his Kingdom of Naples. He was at once captured, court-martialed, and shot, October 13, 1815.

On the last day of his life he wrote a noble letter to his wife:

p130 "My dear Caroline — My last hour has arrived; in a few moments more I shall have ceased to live — in a few moments more you will have no husband. Never forget me; my life has been stained by an injustice. Farewell my Achille, farewell my Letitia, farewell my Lucien, farewell my Louise. I leave you without kingdom or fortune, in the midst of the multitude of my enemies. Be always united; prove yourselves superior to misfortune; remember what you are and what you have been, and God will bless you. Do not reproach my memory. Believe that my greatest suffering in my last moments is dying far from my children. Receive your father's blessing; receive my embraces and my tears.

Keep always present to you the memory of your unfortunate father.

Joachim Murat.

"Pizzo, 13th October, 1815."2

Caroline Bonaparte, Murat's wife, was Napoleon's youngest sister. She was still a child when her brother rose to power, and only sixteen when she first came to Paris. At eighteen she was married to the handsome and dashing Murat. Like her sisters, she was full of ambition and intrigue, and was probably a much abler queen than Murat was a king. Madame Junot thus describes Caroline: "Caroline Bonaparte was a very pretty girl. Fresh as a rose — not to be compared for the regular beauty of her features to Pauline, though more pleasing perhaps by the expression of her countenance p131and the brilliancy of her complexion, but by no means possessing the figure whose perfection distinguished her elder sister. Her head was disproportionately large. Her bust was too short, her shoulders were too round, but her hands and her arms were models, and her skin resembled white satin seen through pink glass. Her teeth were fine, as were those of all the Bonapartes. Her hair was light. As a young girl Caroline was charming. When her mother brought her to Paris in 1798 her beauty was in all its rosy freshness. Magnificence did not become her — brocade did not hang well on her figure, and one feared to see her delicate complexion fade under the weight of diamonds and rubies."

Caroline and Murat were married in January, 1800. On Christmas eve of that year Caroline was driving with the Emperor's party to the opera when an infernal machine hidden in a cart exploded. This was the famous Cadoudal plot. None of the Emperor's party was injured, but all the glass in Caroline's carriage was shattered, and she suffered greatly from shock. Her oldest son was born soon after and suffered for a time from epileptic attacks and a feeble constitution due to the terror of that tragic night.

In the disputes between her husband and Napoleon, Caroline naturally took the part of her brother, although as late as the battle of Dresden in August, 1813, she wrote Murat a loyal and affectionate letter. When Napoleon's empire was crumbling in the spring of 1814 Caroline, mounted on a spirited horse, reviewed the troops at Naples and tried in vain to rally them to the p132support of her husband. Taking the title of Countess of Lapino, she took up her residence in Austria. In 1830, when it was supposed her mother was near death, she was permitted to visit Rome for a month, after which she returned to Austria. Finally she was allowed to take up her abode at Florence, where in 1839 she died of cancer, scourge of the Bonapartes.

To Murat and Caroline there were born two sons: the elder, Napoleon Achille Murat, born in 1801; and the second, Napoleon Lucien Charles Murat, born in 1803. Achille, the elder son, was the first to come to America, arriving here in 1823, and he at once applied for American citizenship. The second son, Lucien Charles, lived for a time with his mother in Austria, and in 1824 started to join his brother in America. His ship was wrecked off the coast of Spain and he was cast into prison. His brother Achille secured the good offices of President Monroe and Lucien was set free. He arrived in Boston in 1825. In 1827 he married at Baltimore a well-to‑do and well connected American girl, Carolina Georgina Fraser, the daughter of Major Thomas Fraser, who had served in the British army during the American Revolution, and who was living at Bordentown, New Jersey, where Murat took up his residence. Prince Lucien Murat greatly displeased his Uncle Joseph by his indiscretions and extravagance, and when he was married to Carolina Fraser, Joseph made good his threat that Lucien would have to support himself. His wife's fortune was soon dissipated by him, and it became necessary for them to conduct a fashionable boarding school for girls.

p133 Lucien Charles Murat is described as a good-natured man of enormous size, six feet two in stature, and of stalwart build. He was noted for an extraordinary pair of boots which he was wont to wear on hunting expeditions. Murat went out of the way to put himself on an equality with his democratic neighbors, and unlike his Uncle Joseph, who thoroughly condemned his course of life, sought to forget that he was a prince.

His over-democratic manners won for him an insolent reply from a stable hand whom he had ordered to do something. The enraged Murat thereupon kicked the man through the stable door. The groom brought suit for assault and battery. When the case came to trial, the groom testified that he had been kicked as many as six times by the enormous boot of Murat. Murat, who conducted his own case, demanded that he show the precise spot where the injury was inflicted. He sought to evade this demand, but Murat insisted, and he therefore indicated the lowest possible part of his spine. Murat rested his case. The attorney for the prosecution then addressed the jury, ringing eloquent changes on "monarchical oppression," the "Star Spangled Banner," the rights of the meanest citizen, etc. Murat then made the following remarkable address to the jury:

"My lord, de judge, and gentlemen of the jury, dere has been great efforts and much troubles to make everybody believe me a very bad man; but dat is of no consequence. De man tells you I kick him six times! six times! so low as possible. I very sorry of the necessity to make him show how low it, but I could not avoid p134it. Now, my lord and gentlemen of the jury, you see this part of the human skeleton." (Taking from the enormous pocket of his hunting coat a human pelvis with the os coccygis complete and articulated with wires.) "Here are de bones. Dese little bones vat you see here" (shaking them to the jury like the end of a rattlesnake's tail), "dese little bones are de very place vere de tail of de animal shall grow; dat is to say, if de man who sue me were to be a veritable jack — vot you call it! ah! jack-horse, and not only very much resemble dat animal, vy you see dese lettle bones, if dey were long enough, would be his tail!"

The court was convulsed with laughter, and the Prince, knowing that now he had the best of it, concluded his speech by "stretching out his enormous leg, armed with his sporting boot up to his knee, and clapping his hand on his massive thigh so that it resounded through the court room," exclaimed: "My lord and gentlemen, how absurd to say I could give him even von kick vid dat, and not to break all to pieces his leetle tail!"

"It was some time," says the chronicler, "before the judge could gather enough dignity to sum up, when the fellow got six cents damages and the Prince three cheers."

The Revolution of 1848 gave Lucien Charles the opportunity to return to France where he was elected a member of the constituent assembly and of the legislative assembly, and was appointed minister plenipotentiary at Turin. On the proclamation of the Empire he was recognized by Napoleon III as a Prince of the p135blood royal with the title of Prince Murat. In 1870 Murat joined the army under Marshal Bazaine, was with him in Metz when that city capitulated, and was made a prisoner of war. He died in England on April 10, 1878.

A grandson, Prince Joachim Murat, died recently in Paris at the age of 52. Prince Joachim served with distinction in the French army during the World War and was decorated for bravery by France and Italy. Until his death he was the representative, in France, of the Bonapartist cause. His house as Paris was placed at the disposal of President Wilson during the Peace Conference and the President used it as his residence during his first visit to Paris.

Murat's first wife was well received in Paris. She and her husband always showed kindness and hospitality to all friends from Bordentown who came to visit them. They had three sons and two daughters. The eldest of the sons served in the Crimean, the Italian, and the Prussian wars and in 1872 obtained leave to serve in the Swedish army. An infant daughter of the Murats lies buried in the graveyard of Christ Church in Bordentown. On the headstone are cut these words: "Murat — December 20, 1844." The four children born at Bordentown were Caroline, Baroness de Chassiron; Anna, Duchess de Mouchy; Achille, husband of the Princess Dadian de Mingrelia;b and Joachim, the Prince Murat.

After the Fall of the Third Empire Carolinaº brought suit for separation of estate from her husband, styling herself "Princess Murat, by birth Carolina Georgina p136Fraser." She succeeded in this suit, but continued to live happily with her husband, whom she survived less than a year.

Achille Murat, the first-born son of Marshal Murat and the first to come to the United States, settled near Tallahassee, Florida. He had happened to meet at Washington Richard Kirk Call, the territorial representative from Florida. It was at Call's advice that he took up his abode at Tallahassee. In the Seminole War he served as an aide-de‑camp on General Call's staff. When Lafayette was in America and Murat was travelling with him, Lafayette introduced him to Catherine Gray, a sixteen year old widow, the daughter of Colonel Byrd Willis and on her mother's side a grand-niece of George Washington, to whom she bore a marked resemblance. Achille and Catherine were married July 30, 1826, and made their home on Murat's Florida estate, Lipona, near Tallahassee.c There Murat served both as postmaster and mayor. Prince Murat bore striking resemblance to his uncle, the great Emperor; so much so that once when he was in Europe, and was made Colonel of a regiment in the Belgian army, old soldiers of Napoleon frequently stopped him in public and covered his hands with kisses.


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Prince Achille Murat

Nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte

(Copyright The Fountain of Youth Museum,
St. Augustine, Florida)

Princess Achille Murat

Grand-niece of George Washington

(Copyright The Fountain of Youth Museum,
St. Augustine, Florida)

Achille Murat, like his younger brother, Lucien Charles, was a man of eccentric ways. He never cleaned his boots and never changed them until they were worn out. A shaggy dog which he kept was used as a spittoon. He cooked and ate all kinds of animals and experimented on his slaves with a diet of cherry tree sawdust. Among Murat's curious experiments was "alligator-tail p137soup," — "a little better," he said, "than turkey buzzard soup." On one occasion his wife, upon arriving home, found him bending over a huge kettle, where he was experimenting with a dye, having thrust into the kettle everything he could lay hands on — sheets, tablecloths, pillowcases, and even some of his wife's dresses. Murat had a curious aversion to water, taken either internally or externally. He said that water was intended only for the beasts of the field, and he never drank it without adding whisky to it. On one occasion he fell into a syrup vat on the plantation he owned near Baton Rouge. Those who stood about were fearful lest he should be scalded; but Murat's only comment was, "Kate will make me wash."3

Like many of the Bonapartes, Achille Murat had a flair for authorship and wrote, "Exposition of the Principles of Republican Government as brought to Perfection in America." This book ran through fifty editions, and enjoyed a great reputation in Europe. Continental Europe's ideas of American manners and institutions were derived from this and other books of Murat as much as from any other source. Murat also wrote "Moral and Political Essays on the United States of America." Of American religions he has this to say:

"Methodism equalizes everything, so that you may see an old Negress preaching to her master, a Negro praying by his young mistress. You think I am joking, that I am speaking to you of the farces of Saint‑Médard which made so much noise in the time of Voltaire.d But what p138will you say when you know that among a people eminently reasonable this sect is most diffused and reckons three times as many members as any other? It augments every day and will probably in a few years be the only religion among the ignorant classes of the people.

"Unitarianism on the other hand is likely to become the predominant sect among enlightened persons; although its followers are not yet very numerous, it nevertheless makes rapid progress. Nothing can be more simple than their doctrines. They have at their head at the present time a man of the rarest merit and of exemplary virtue, a genuine Plato — Dr. Channing. Nothing can surpass his eloquence or his purity of morals and doctrine which distinguish his preaching.

"Of all the sects in the United States the most formidable is that of the Presbyterians. Its bilious children, austere disciples of the gloomy Calvin, have inherited all his gall and venom and do not scruple to invest the divinity with their spirit of vengeance and satanic wickedness."

Of a temperance society Murat writes as follows:

"This last society in particular is very singular and very much extended. The members engage never to drink any distilled liquor, nor to permit its use in their families. But nothing hinders them from drinking wine. In that they mistake the Creator for a bad chemist."

Of the Sabbath-keeping Puritans of New England, he writes:

"They are in this respect so scrupulous that a brewer was reproved in church for having brewed on a Saturday, by which the beer had been exposed to work on the Sabbath."

One can easily imagine what p139interest these caricatures of American life and manners must have awakened in Europe.

Of American society he writes,

Once married, the young lady entirely changes her habits. Farewell gaiety and frivolity. She is not less happy, but her happiness is of a serious character, she becomes a mother, is employed in her household, becomes quite the center of domestic affection, and enjoys the esteem of all who know and surround her. Society everywhere in the United States may be considered as divided into two very distinct classes: that of unmarried persons of both sexes whose principal occupation is courtship and the finding a suitable companion with whom to make the voyage of life; the other, of people who have already made that choice."

In his "America and the Americans," Murat gives an amusing account of the appearance of the ballet on American shores:

"From the moment of its introduction the waltz was looked upon as most indelicate, and, in fact, an outrage on female delicacy. Even preachers denounced in public the circumstance of a man who was neither lover nor husband encircling the waist and whirling a lady about in his arms, as an heinous sin and an abomination. Nobody can forget the excitement created by the arrival of the ballet corps in New York from Paris! I happened to be at the first representation. The very appearance of dancers in short petticoats created an indescribable astonishment; but at the first 'pirouette,' when these appendages, charged with lead at the extremities, whirled round, taking a horizontal position, such a noise was created in the theater, p140that I question whether even the uproar at one of Musard's carnival 'bals infernaux' at Paris, could equal it. The ladies screamed out for very shame, and left the theater, and the gentlemen, for the most part, remained crying and laughing at the very fun of the thing! while they only remarked its ridiculousness. They had yet to learn and admire and appreciate the gracefulness and voluptuous ease of a Taglioni, Cerite and a Fanny Elssler."4

In his various books Murat made interesting comments on "American Cities." Of New Orleans he has this to say, "New Orleans forms in itself a striking contrast to all the other large cities — little intellectual conversation is met with here — very little instruction — and it contains (1832) only three libraries to a town of 60,000 inhabitants, while the book-stores contain works of the worst description of French literature. If there is little conversation, however, ample means are afforded for eating, playing, dancing, and making love. In one particular institution in this town, periodical balls are held, where the free women of color alone are admitted to have the honor of dancing with their white masters; while men of color are strictly excluded."

Murat thought little of North Carolina. "North Carolina," he wrote, "is a bad imitation of Virginia. Its interest and politics are the same, and it navigates in its own waters." Saratoga he describes as a place where "the greater part of the visitors reside in immense establishments, many of whom however are wretchedly p141accommodated, or caged in rooms six feet square. The public saloons however are magnificent, while the exteriors of these buildings have quite a monumental appearance. The visitors rise early and proceed to drink or assume the intention of drinking the waters, then return to a general breakfast. While the papas and mammas have an air of ennui, the young ladies amuse themselves with music, or listen to the more melodious notes of the young gentlemen, or amuse themselves by making various excursions in the neighborhood of the Springs."5

Charleston, South Carolina, was to Murat as to many others "the city par excellence" of American society and luxury. There "the company in general is composed of planters, lawyers, doctors, etc., forming the most agreeable society I was ever in. The manners of the South are elegant to perfection, and the mind highly cultivated, while their conversation runs through a variety of topics with the greatest ease, fluency and grace. There is no frivolous affection of foreign manners here — no religious hypocrisy or pedantry — all is intellectual, virtuous, and rational. Charleston forms the ordinary residency of many of the most distinguished members of the Senate and State throughout the Union; who are ever willing to impart information and instruction to their fellow-citizens."

On a trip to Florida for his health, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the acquaintance of Achille Murat and a warm friendship sprang up between them. In his p142"Journal" for April 6, 1827 Emerson makes this entry:

"A new event is added to the quiet history of my life. I have connected myself by friendship to a man who with as ardent a love of truth as that which animates me, with a mind surpassing mine in the variety of its research, and sharpened and strengthened to an energy for action to which I have no pretension, by advantages of birth and practical connexion with mankind beyond almost all men in the world — is, yet, that which I had ever supposed only a creature of the imagination — a consistent Atheist — and a disbeliever in the existence, and, of course, in the immortality of the soul. My faith in these points is strong and I trust, as I live, indestructible. Meantime I love and honour this intrepid doubter. His soul is noble, and his virtue, as the virtue of a Sadducee must always be, is sublime."6

In a letter to his brother, written at Charleston, South Carolina, April 26, 1827, Emerson tells of a voyage from St. Augustine to Charleston, and how he had for a shipmate none other than Achille Murat:

"My dear Brother:

"I arrived here yesterday, after a direful passage of nine days from St. Augustine. The ordinary one is one or two days. We were becalmed, tempest-tossed, and at last well nigh starved, but the beloved brother bore it not only with equanimity, but pleasure, for my kind genius had sent me for my shipmate Achille Murat, the eldest son of the old King Joachim. He is now a planter p143at Tallahassee and at this time on his way to visit his uncle (Joseph Bonaparte) at Bordentown. He is a philosopher, a scholar, a man of the world; very skeptical but very candid, and an ardent lover of truth. I blessed my stars for my fine companion and we talked incessantly. More of him when I shall see you."7

This somewhat singular friendship flourished for a number of years. Emerson's pale Unitarianism appealed to Murat and he wanted him to come to Tallahassee and propagate its doctrines there. In a letter to Emerson, Murat tells of hearing William Henry Furness, Abolitionist, grandfather of the Shakespearian scholar of that name, and a life-long friend of Emerson, preach in the Unitarian Church at Philadelphia:

"I have been in Philadelphia to hear Mr. Furness preach and heard him with great pleasure. Your church is increasing very rapidly in Georgia — why should it not extend to Tallahassee, and you come there, to substitute reason, learning and morality, to nonsense, ignorance, fanaticism; even those who do not think as you do, would be glad of it for decency's sake; then we are far from that age of reason, where truth alone, resplendent, unblemished, unmixed with errors, will be the proper food for man. I thank you very much for the interest you take in my welfare, and I assure you that feeling is perfectly reciprocal. We have met by chance, but I hope that the friendship you have inspired in me, and you tell me I can claim from you, will be not the less lasting for it. Mrs. Murat appreciates p144your kind remembrances and has not forgotten to threaten me with your name whenever a harsh expression finds way up my throat.

Your friend and servant,

Achille Murat."8

Murat once fought a duel in which his second was Governor Long of Florida. As he took his pistol he said quietly, "You know I expect nothing hereafter," and stood up to give and receive fire, which happily was without fatal results to either combatant. But at his death Murat seems to have recanted of his rationalistic and Unitarian ideas, and a Catholic priest was summoned to administer the last rites of the Church. In this respect he was like his renowned uncle who frequently gave utterance to rationalistic opinions, but at the end had a Catholic chaplain in attendance at St. Helena and signified that he died in the Catholic faith. Achille Murat died April 15, 1847 and was buried in the Episcopal churchyard at Tallahassee. His wife, Catherine Gray, went frequently to France, where she was graciously received by Napoleon III, who called her "Cousin Kate" and settled a much needed annuity upon her. When Florida seceded from the Union in 1861, Catherine was assigned the honor of firing the cannon which announced to the world that Florida was now a "sovereign and independent nation." Catherine died August 6, 1867, and was buried by the side of her husband in the Tallahassee churchyard.

p145 On her last visit to France, Catherine Murat entertained Napoleon III with tales of The War between the States. His disposition to intervene in that struggle on the side of the Confederacy was well known, and constituted a real menace to the Union, until McClellan's victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862 prompted Lincoln to issue his Proclamation of Emancipation. After that no European government could have intervened on behalf of the South without the risk of a popular uprising. This is confirmed by what Napoleon III himself said to Catherine Murat on her last visit to Paris: "Cousin Kate, you had all my warmest sympathy and hopes for your success. But on account of slavery I did not dare to send an army to your assistance. Had I done so, I should have had a mob in Paris."


The Authors' Notes:

1 Caulaincourt, With Napoleon in Russia, p64. Wm. Morrow & Co., N. Y. 1935.

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2 Berkeley Men, Napoleon Dynasty, p526, Sheldon, Blakeman & Co., N. Y. 1857.

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3 McConnell, The Prince and Princess Achille Murat in Florida. Centennial Magazine. 1893.

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4 Murat, America and the Americans. S. W. Benedict, N. Y. 1849.

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5 Murat, America and the Americans. S. W. Benedict, N. Y. 1849.

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6 Emerson's Journals, II, p183. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston.

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7 Emerson's Journals, II, p182. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston.

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8 Emerson's Journals, II, p187. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston.


Thayer's Notes:

a In the dialects of central and southern France, bastide is the common word for a fortified village. As we might expect then, there are several dozen, maybe hundreds of places called "Bastide", "La Bastide", and "Labastide": they should be given their full name, in this case Labastide-Fortunière, now Labastide-Murat. ▸ American writers perk up your ears: don't toss out European placenames without checking them! We wouldn't dream of writing that someone was born in just plain Springfield or Portland without telling our readers which one; it's the same and probably worse in Europe.

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b This extraordinary name fairly screamed for verification; and our authors seem to have it more or less right: Web sources identify the Princess as Salomé Davidovna Dadian of Mingrelia (daughter of Prince David Lewanovich of Mingrelia and Princess Catherine Tchavtchavadze): Achille Murat (born January 2, 1847 at Bordentown) married her on May 13, 1868 in Paris. Mingrelia is the area of Asian Georgia known in Antiquity as Colchis, and thus home to Jason's Golden Fleece — but we knew that, of course.

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c Kendall (History of New Orleans, p94, note) quotes H. B. Seebold, M.D. as mentioning in "Some Bonapartes in America" (New Orleans Catholic Monthly, July, 1915) that Achille Murat practiced law in New Orleans.

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d The reference is to the convulsionaries of Saint-Médard, for which see the article Jansenius and Jansenism in the Catholic Encyclopedia.


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Page updated: 26 Feb 13