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 council of the département of Corsica having unanimously expressed, in the session of 1843, the wish that the family of Napoleon be recalled from exile, and that Louis-Napoleon be restored to the freedom and enjoyment of his rights as a French citizen, the newspaper Le Loiret interested itself on this occasion in the prisoner of Ham, and asked him by what title he would re-enter the great French family, if the doors of his prison were to open, and if the Government put an end to the exile to which his family was condemned.
Louis-Napoleon immediately addressed the following reply, which was then published by several other newspapers.
Fort of Ham, the 28th of October 1843.
To Monsieur the Editor in chief of the newspaper Le Loiret.
I reply without hesitation to the benevolent inquiry that you addressed to me in your paper on the 18th.
I have never believed and never will I believe that France belongs to a man or to a family ; never will I invoke other rights than those of a French citizen, and never will I have any other desire than to see the people in their entirety, legally convoked, freely choose the form of government that suits them.
Hailing from a family that owes its ascension to the votes of the nation, I would be denying my origins, my nature, and what is more, common sense, if I did not recognise the sovereignty of the people as the fundamental basis of any political system. My previous acts and words are in agreement with this opinion. If I have been misunderstoon, it is because defeats are not explained, but condemned.
I have laid claim, it is true, to the first place, but in the breach. I had a great ambition, but it was highly admissible : the ambition of uniting around my plebeian name all the partisans of national sovereignty, all those who wanted glory and freedom.
Should democratic [public] opinion harbour a grudge against me ? Is it for France to punish me for it ?
Whatever the fate that the future holds for me, it will never be said of me, that in exile or in captivity, I have learned nothing, nor forgiven nothing !
Accept, Sir, the assurance of my sentiments of esteem and sympathy.