Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Papers, 1805-1893, MS.144

Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Papers, 1805-1893
Maryland Historical Society

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Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Papers, 1805-1893
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105

Descriptive Summary


MS. 144

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674

REPORTED: February 16, 1973

Barbara Murray


Container List


Boxes 1-4



These boxes contain chiefly letters to Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte plus a few pieces of correspondence of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr.

The collection contains numerous letters from members of the Bonaparte family--Joseph, Julie, Lucien, Pauline, Jerome-Napoleon, Plon-Plon, Mathilde, Caroline, Christine, Madame Mere, Louis, Louis Napoleon (the Emperor), Charles Lucien, Charlotte, Achille Murat (the American author), etc. Also included are copies of some of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's responses. Most Bonaparte family letters are affectionate and include information about health, detailed news about activities of family members, comments on European politics, requests for news of JNB and his family, invitations, etc. Letters from Joseph Bonaparte (Comte de Survilliers) and his daughter Charlotte are particularly numerous. Letters from Achille Murat (son of Caroline Bonaparte and Joachim Murat; writer) concern his life in St. Augustine, his hopes for the future in Florida, his farm, announcement of his marriage, etc.

Correspondents (some of one letter only) of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte in this section include notable American figures such as Robert E. Lee, Winfield Scott, John A. Dix, Franklin Pierce, Lew Wallace, George Peabody, Lewis Cass, Roger B. Taney, etc. Letters from Robert E. Lee are numerous and discuss Westpoint and Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr.'s career. Winfield Scott spoke highly of JNB Jr. in a letter of Feb. 9, 1857. Letters from John A. Dix (soldier, cabinet officer, Gov. of N.Y.) are numerous and include: notes on politics and reforms in France and the U.S., notes on the Civil War and attitudes towards reconstruction, remarks about Paris and Europe, a confidential message about Custom House trouble and the possibility of his taking a Naval Office instead of an office abroad (1866, Sept. 25), notes on Democratic nomination of Gov. Seymour, etc.

In a letter of Oct. 30, 1854, Franklin Pierce asked Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte to come to Washington and to translate a paper (this paper is presumably the Note Confidentielle of Oct. 1854, included in this section. It was a confidential message by M. Droyer? de Shuys from the French government to the American government, carried to the President by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, in regard to the difficulties of France with Patrice Dillon, Pierre Soulé, Romulus Mitchell Saunders, U.S. Secretary of State Marcy, and the proposed U.S. purchase of Cuba, as well as French protestations against U.S.-Russian relations.) (Vols. I and II of the letterbooks, Box 8, contain more correspondence on this topic.)

Business correspondence of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte is also included in this section, especially to and from Jas. Baylies concerning rentals, prices, condition of business during the Civil War, etc. Also includes letters to McKim and Co. (bankers) about finances, the passage and repeal of the Gold Bill, etc.

Correspondence to and from Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte while he was abroad, esp. 1863-64, includes discussion of the draft and draft dodgers, Maryland elections and Schenk's refusal to let those who would not take the oath vote, etc.

Miscellaneous items found in this section include 228 shares on the Frederick Turnpike (1807, July 4); policies with a fire department; deeds; U.S. naturalization papers of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte; passports; and a narrative by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr. of a trip through Virginia to White Sulphur Springs (33 ppl; July-Sept. 1846; comments on Va. attitude to railroads, conditions of travel, the Chapman brake, etc.).


Box 1





Box 2





Box 3

1860-May 1864




Box 4

June 1864-1893





II. COMMONPLACE BOOKS (plus undated correspondence and miscellaneous material)

(Box 5)



Undated correspondence and miscellaneous material.

1 small red leather commonplace book of Susan May Williams, 1826-?, cover stamped S. M. Williams. Includes MS. poems, several apparently original compositions by Susan May Williams. Also includes etiquette list, excerpts from letters, etc. Some items apparently added at a later date.

1 pasteboard commonplace book of Susan May Williams, c. 1857-c.1877. Includes newspaper clippings; short philosophical comments; quotes from literature; verses (apparently original), etc. Also includes some copies of letters. Loose items individually foldered in Box 5.

Passeport case of Jerome N. Bonaparte, with blank pages.

1 small volume by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte entitled Extracts relative to travels in Europe, no. 3. Includes extracts from a tour in Italy 1828-29 by J.P. Cobbet; extracts from Cooper's England; information about prices in London, etiquette, descriptions of places, recipes for sea sickness, lists of hotels, etc. Also includes copies of letters of introduction.

1 large commonplace book of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, kept while he was in Cambridge, Mass. With red spine, dated June 11, 1823. Contains mostly notes on history--stanzas fromChilde Harold, quotes from Pliny and Herodotis, notes on ancient history, courses of reading recommended by Norton and Priestly, etc. Indexed.

1 large Locke's Commonplace Book, brown spine, dated 1823. Kept by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte while he was in Cambridge, Mass. Contains a copy of Sismondi's course of Modern History, a French revolutionary calendar; notes on history, chemistry, law, botany, etc. Also contains 6 lectures in French literature delivered at Harvard University by Professor Ticknor, 1826.

1 small commonplace book, labeled on first page Jerome N. Bonaparte Jr. Contains rules of etiquette and right conduct--apparently written by Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte for the education of her grandson.




III. BILLS, 1852-1864

(Box 6)


Bills of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte and members of his family--for personal goods, hotel lodgings, furnishings, carriage repairs, household construction and labor, etc. Some receipts. About half of the bills are in French and half in English.




IV. CHECKS, 1855-1869

(Box 7)


Cancelled checks of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte and Susan May Bonaparte, drawn on McKim and Co., Merchants, and Traders Banks. With U.S. Revenue Bank Check stamps affixed. Includes some hand written checks.





Volumes I-V

(Box 8)


Material in letterbooks was copied by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Senior from the original documents. At the back of each volume (except Vol. V which is only partially filled) is a notorized statement, in English and French, to the effect that Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte swore that these letters were carefully compared to the originals and were true copies. Letters are incoming and outgoing.

Material in the letterbooks is scattered--often letters from one time period or by one correspondent are grouped together, but with many exceptions. Some are copies of letters whose originals are in this collection, but most are not. The letters are largely in French, though some are in English (esp. in Vols. IV-V).



Volume I



Scattered copies, many of letters from members of the Bonaparte family. These discuss approximately the same topics as the letters in the correspondence section of this collection. Also includes a copy of the Note Confidentielle of Oct 1854(see above). Includes letters from Robert E. Lee (some of whose originals are not in this collection) and some correspondence relating to attempts of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte to obtain a Westpoint appointment for Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr. Also some correspondence related to the American Bonaparte's case against the French government and Napoleon III.

Includes index of contents (by name of correspondent) in the back of the volume.




Volume II



Includes a list of papers deposited by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte with M. Berryer. Copies of papers relating to Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, and JNB Jr. and their negotiations with the French government and Napoleon III concerning their rights as Bonapartes, etc. Also includes copies of correspondence in regard to Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's case against Thiers for printing false statements about Jerome Bonaparte's marriage. As in Vol. I, many copies of papers from Bonaparte family members.

Also contains copies of JNB's correspondence with the Emperor Napoleon III and Droyer? de Shuys concerning the Note Confidentielle (see above) and related negotiations, 1854-55--reporting his meetings with President Franklin Pierce; Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's interpretation of U.S. attitudes to France; the relation of the Know-Nothing party to the actions of Soulé, etc.; and the possibility of a return note to France.

Includes index of contents (by name of correspondent) in the back of the volume.




Volume III



Includes correspondence concerning Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's travels in Europe in an attempt to acquire his legacies from Cardinal Fesch and his father Jerome Bonaparte, and to protect his rights as a legitimate Bonaparte.

Includes Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's correspondence with the Emperor Napoleon III on various topics--includes advice about relations with the U.S., etc. Contains a copy of a memo (pp. 111-117) sent by Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte to the Emperor on Feb. 5, 1862 discussing the Civil War--its background, pretexts of the Confederacy for starting the war, reasons for its commencement (Southern ambition, slavery, and filibusterism in the South). Also predicts the course

of the war (a sure Northern victory), describes the North's attitude to France (friendly and expecting French neutrality), and advises the Emperor on the course of action to take to insure lasting bonds with the U.S.

Includes correspondence of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte with Lewis Cass, J. P. Kennedy, Benj. C. Howard, Reverdy Johnson, George Peabody, John Slidell, etc. Much correspondence dealing with Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's attempt to get Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr. an appointment to Westpoint. Also letters of JNB Jr. in regard to conditions in Europe, the death of Jerome Bonaparte, and his military career in France.

Also includes index of contents (by name of correspondent) in the back of the volume.




Volume IV



Extracts from letters of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte and JNB Jr., 1854-55, addressed to Mrs. Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte--referring to the case of the American Bonapartes against the French government and the Emperor Napoleon III and written from France to the United States (corroborative of a memorial made by M. Berryer to the cour Impériale de Paris in 1861). Letters describe in detail Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's relationship while visiting the French court with his father Jerome Bonaparte, his half sister Princess Mathilde, Plon Plon, the Emperor Napoleon III and his wife, etc. Includes commentary on the character and policies of Napoleon III, remarks about the French court and society, etc.

Also includes extracts from letters (to his father, his mother, and Princess Mathilde) of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr. while he was taking part in the French army's actions in the Crimea (in the position of officier d'ordonance of Gen. Morris). Describes his part in the siege of Sebastopol--hardships; skirmishes; military politics; comments on the French, British and Russian troops; praises for the chasseurs d'Afrique; and reports of news that he describes as not being recorded in the official reports.




Volume V

(1855, and 1862?):


Continuation of Vol. IV--Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Jr.'s letters concerning his part in the French army during the siege of Sebastopol. Includes detailed commentary about skirmishes; the French, British and Russian troops; rumors of peace; corrections of false news reporting, etc.

Also letters of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte Senior to his wife, from Paris (as in Vol. IV) describing his relations with the Emperor,

his father, Plon-Plon, etc. Also news of JNB Jr.'s career, and reports about the reactions of the Bonaparte family to the distinction JNB Jr. received in the Crimea (as opposed to the poor reputation received by the rest of the Bonaparte family). Reports the visit of the Queen of England to France, and the destruction of Sebastopol.

Also a copy of a letter by JNB to Napoleon III, c. 1862.







(Box 9)


Chiefly copies (by copy machine) of Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte's letters to his son JNB Jr. while he was in Europe in the French army. Includes news about his son Charles J. Bonaparte, himself (his health, interests, etc.), prominent Baltimoreans (incl. George Peabody), and the political situation in the U. S. Letters include detailed commentary on the effect of the Civil War on the economy of the U.S. (esp. Baltimore), social life in Baltimore (creation of a definite loyal-secessionist split in society), the government and Constitution (creation of a strong martial spirit), the South, and the Democratic party. Reports general war news, and the origin and development of the Union Club of Baltimore, of which he was a member. Also discusses the attitudes of Americans to the French and the British.

Also includes some commentary about JNB Jr.'s career in the French army, his troubles concerning the question of his legitimacy, etc.

Also includes copies of some letters to Gen. [John A.] Dix in relation to the purchase of a horse, the loyalty of Robert and William Gilmor of Baltimore, etc.





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