The Post recently criticized Ridley Scott's “Napoleon,” starring Joaquin Phoenix, as a “Looney tune,” an opinion echoed by Post founder Alexander Hamilton's assessment of the French leader 200 years ago. Little has changed since then.
The nation's oldest continuously operating daily newspaper was founded in the fall of 1801.
The terror and anarchy of the French Revolution had almost ended, and Napoleon was ruling France as First Consul.
Alexander Hamilton and his post-successors made their distaste for this diminutive de facto dictator clear.
“The Corsican took the throne” [France]. “Twenty-four million people are subject to the will of unknown foreigners,” the paper wrote in December 1803, a year before Hamilton's death.
“Suicide has become common. Murder is respected as entertainment. Divorce is happening every day,” the paper added in a horrifying description of his misgovernment. “Fathers poisoned their children, wives murdered their husbands. Children have become murderers. Prostitutes are registered in public records…This is the current situation in once prosperous France. is.”
Napoleon and his allies, the newspaper wrote, had abandoned the principles of freedom and in their place “planted the poisonous tree of despotism.”
After acting cautiously in 1802, the Post's coverage began to change direction as the French rulers prepared to invade England.
After he was crowned emperor at the end of 1804 and his armies were deployed across Europe, the press became sharply negative.
In July 1808, the Post warned, “To touch Napoleon is death.” . . It would be crazy to hope that a tyrant who not only usurped the government of an overthrown republic, but also destroyed every republic on earth except our own, would come to our aid. ”
Over the years, newspapers unflinchingly bestowed colorful nicknames on the conqueror, such as “The Devil,” “The Tyrant of Europe,” “The Great Thief,” and “The Great Ravager,” while his armies received ” It's like a beast of prey, devouring and destroying everything in front of it.”
By 1810, Napoleon had reached the height of his power and was imposing severe trade restrictions on the countries he occupied.
The Post, leaning into the free-market bona fides of federalism, delivered a blistering denunciation.
“The people will fight if necessary, but they will never again submit to being tied around the neck and heels, kicked and handcuffed by men like Napoleon Bonaparte,” the newspapers roared. “They will not obey the orders of a foreign tyrant. They despise the threat of Napoleon I as much as they despise the threat of George III.”
Napoleon “committed an unprecedented series of deceptions and betrayals, atrocities and crimes. Nero's atrocities . . . would have wept, and even Caligula's soul would have cringed at his criminal acts,” the paper said. Written in August 1810.
The Post's coverage of the Battle of Waterloo took place on August 2, 1815.
The headline “Important'' rang out in all caps, announcing the news of the tyrant's defeat. “The enemy fled in confusion, leaving behind 150 cannons with ammunition, which fell into Allied hands.”
The newspaper also published a first-hand account of the battle by the Duke of Wellington, who led the victorious British army, with the headline “Bonaparte's Defeat.''
Sir Andrew Roberts, author of an important new biography of Napoleon, says US domestic politics and Hamilton's bitter rivalry with Thomas Jefferson may have added fuel to the fire against the French, which was then a broad heat. said.
“Jefferson was the second ambassador after Franklin, and he was seen as a very pro-French figure,” Roberts said.
Hamilton, the nation's first Secretary of the Treasury, never met Napoleon and was killed in a duel by then-Vice President Aaron Burr in Weehawken, New Jersey, in July 1804.
In a strange twist of fate, Hamilton did this. Having dinner with Napoleon's playboy brother Jerome According to his personal letters, in 1804.
The sit-in at Hamilton's home in the Manhattan neighborhood now known as Hamilton Heights took place just weeks before the founding father's fateful encounter with Mr. Barr.