Statement condemning the Execution of Emigrants

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Statement condemning the Execution of Emigrants  (1798) 
by Napoleon Bonaparte
Delivered on 16th May 1798, during Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, as dictated to his secretary Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne, and translated for the 1891 English edition of his book Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte by Colonel R.W. Phipps.

HEADQUARTERS TOULON, 27th Floreal, year VI. (16th May 1798).

BONAPARTE, MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE, TO THE MILITARY COMMISSIONERS OF THE NINTH DIVISION, ESTABLISHED BY THE LAW OF THE 19TH FRUCTIDOR.

I have learned, citizens, with deep regret, that an old man, between seventy and eighty years of age, and some unfortunate women, in a state of pregnancy, or surrounded with children of tender age, have been shot on the charge of emigration.

Have the soldiers of liberty become executioners? Can the mercy which they have exercised even in the fury of battle be extinct in their hearts?

The law of the 19th Fructidor was a measure of public safety. Its object was to reach conspirators, not women and aged men.


I therefore exhort you, citizens, whenever the law brings to your tribunals women or old men, to declare that in the field of battle you have respected the women and old men of your enemies.

The officer who signs a sentence against a person incapable of bearing arms is a coward.

BONAPARTE