EVERYTHING FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE
« For the Honour of France, for the sacred interests of Humanity »
(Napoleon the Great, 17th of Ventôse Year VIII – Saturday 8th March 1800)
The 18th of June 1815 was the battle of Mont St-Jean for the Army of the North, commanded by Napoleon the Great in person ; La Belle Alliance for the Prussian army under Blücher, and Waterloo for the coalition army under Wellington. Everyone knows that the day ended with a French defeat, and that the Emperor, faced with the hostility of parliamentarians manipulated by Joseph Fouché, Duke of Otranto and minister of Police, abdicated and went into exile.
But the 18th of June was also the day on which, in 1855, Patrice MacMahon, the future marshal of France and Duke of Magenta, led his troops in an attack on the Russian positions. Forty years after the battle of the 18th of June 1815, the French Empire, under Napoleon III, sent her soldiers to fight beside the British, Piedmontese and Turks, while in 1915, Frenchmen, Belgians, British and Italians fought shoulder to shoulder against the German Empire.
And in 1940, on the 18th of June, it was General De Gaulle, ex-member of the last legal government of the Republic, and the foremost representative of the only legtitimate French government, who launched, on the airwaves of the BBC, the call to Resistance. Prince Louis Napoleon, meanwhile, dissolved the Bonapartist groups to avoid them being used by the Nazis or by traitors, and enlisted in the Free French forces.
During his trial for having attempted to overthrow the government of King Louis-Philippe, Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III, declared to all present that he respresented a principle, a cause and a defeat –
« The principle is the sovereignty of the people ; the cause, that of the Empire ; the defeat, Waterloo. You have recognised the principle, you have served the cause, and you wish to avenge the defeat ». He knew that, sooner or later, the Napoleonic cause, « the cause of the interests of the people », which is « European », would triumph.
When, in 1856, victorious in the Crimean War, the French Empire was home to the the Congress which was to set the terms of peace, and to lead, several years later, to the creation of a united Italy and a united Romania, Napoleon III knew that the treaty signed in Paris had avenged the 18th of June 1815.
When, in 1918, Empress Eugénie, in exile in England, provided the French government with a letter from the king of Prussia, which permitted France to have Alsace and Lorraine, annexed in 1871, returned to her, she knew that the heroic death of her son Napoleon IV, in 1879, and the Treaty of Versailles, had avenged Sedan.
When De Gaulle, on the 18th of June 1945, saw France, bruised and bloodied, but, at last, freed from the Nazi yoke for nearly a year, he knew that the victory of Free France had kept the country from suffering the fate of vanquished States. He also knew that this liberation had avenged the disaster of 1940, and that it gave back to a reborn France the greatness of which we know that there is a pact twenty centuries old between it and the freedom of the world.
Faithful to all of this heritage, we pay hommage to the officers and soldiers who fought from 1792 to 1815 for the glory and the independence of France and of her allies, against the unjust aggressions of the seven coalitions leagued against them.
We recall by the present declaration our fight to give the work of remembrance and solidarity of the Cornflower of France the visibility it deserves, and to make it the symbole of remembrance and solidarity of the entire Francophonie.
We invite you also, on this same occasion, to sign and to have others sign, our petition in aid of our armies and police forces (France and United Kingdom), as well as their families.
We have refused to allow the bicentenial of the 18th of June 1815 to monopolise our attention, which does not prevent us – on the contrary, from paying hommage to all those who fought from 1792 to 1815, at the same time as we do so for those of 1855, 1915 and 1945.
The 160th anniversary of the Universal Exhibition of 1855, the 210th anniversaries of Ulm and Austerlitz, to quote only three of the anniversaries that we commemorate this year by projects, demands and propositions, are opportunities to respect, and cause to be respected, our duties of remembrance and solidarity, under the sign of remembrance and hope. And we invite you to join us, in the name of a principle, a cause and a victory.