Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Bonaparte, Jerome
BONAPARTE, Jerome, king of Westphalia, b. in Ajaccio, Corsica, 15 Nov., 1784; d. in Villegenis, near Paris, 24 June, 1860. He entered the navy in 1800, and in 1803, during a visit to the United States, married Miss Patterson, of Baltimore, without the consent of his family. This marriage was declared null by Napoleon in 1806. He was promoted to rear-admiral by Napoleon in 1806, and in the same year was transferred to the army, becoming a general of brigade. His corps gained some successes in Silesia in 1807, and in July of that year his brother placed him on the throne of the new kingdom of Westphalia. He married the princess Catherine of Würtemberg, in August, 1807, and reigned till the expulsion of the French from Germany in October, 1813. After Napoleon's return from Elba, Jerome joined him, and commanded a division at Waterloo, winning the special praise of Napoleon for his gallantry there. After living in exile at Trieste, Rome, and Lausanne, he returned to France in 1847, and became a field-marshal in 1850. —
His wife, Elizabeth Patterson, b. in Baltimore, Md., 6 Feb., 1785; d. there, 4 April, 1879. Her father, William Patterson, emigrated from Ulster to America when a lad, pushed his way in business, became the owner of a line of clipper ships, and, Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, only excepted, was the wealthiest citizen of Maryland. At a ball at the house of Samuel Chase, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, in the autumn of 1803, Capt. Jerome Bonaparte was introduced to Miss Patterson. They were mutually pleased; but her father, foreseeing that his daughter's marriage with a youth with such brilliant prospects would prove distasteful to the first consul, forbade the courtship, and sent his daughter to Virginia. The lovers contrived to correspond, and in a short time became engaged, and Jerome went so far as to procure a marriage license. The match was postponed until 24 Dec., 1803, when Jerome would have passed his nineteenth birthday. All legal formalities were carefully complied with; the contract was drawn up by Alexander Dallas, afterward secretary of the treasury, and the vice-consul of France, the mayor of Baltimore, and many other dignitaries witnessed the ceremony, which was solemnized by Archbishop Carroll. Joseph and Lucien advised Jerome to become an American citizen, and took steps to procure him a provision enabling him to live there in accordance with his rank. From first to last Napoleon remained obdurate. Jerome received a message from his brother to the effect that if he left the “young person” in America, his youthful indiscretion would be forgiven; if he brought her with him, she should not put a foot on French territory. Capt. Bonaparte and his wife sailed in March, 1805, on one of Mr. Patterson's ships, reached Lisbon, and found a French frigate there to prevent her landing. Jerome left his young wife and went to Paris to plead her cause with the emperor, while the vessel proceeded to Amsterdam. At the mouth of the Texel two men-of-war awaited her, and Elizabeth Bonaparte was forced to seek an asylum in England. Pitt sent a regiment to Dover to prevent mischief, so great was the multitude that thronged thither to witness her landing. A few days later her son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, was born, 7 July, 1805, at Camberwell. Here she continued to reside, constantly receiving messages and letters from Jerome, protesting his fidelity and affection. Napoleon applied to Pius VII. to dissolve the marriage, which the pontiff steadfastly refused; but a decree of divorce was passed by the imperial council of state. On condition of her going to America, the emperor offered Madame Bonaparte a pension during her life of 60,000 francs a year. “provided she does not take the name of my family,” and after some time she consented to return to America, hoping thus to conciliate her imperial brother-in-law. When Jerome was admitted to Napoleon's presence, the emperor upbraided him rudely, and concluded: “As for your affair with your little girl, I do not regard it.” As a reward for his desertion, Jerome was created a prince of the empire, and was promoted admiral. He received subsequently the rank of general. In 1806 he was made by the senate successor to the imperial throne in the event of Napoleon's leaving no male heir, and in 1807 was created king of Westphalia. On 12 Aug., 1807, he married Catherine Frederica, princess of Würtemburg. By his second marriage he had three children, of whom the surviving son, Prince Napoleon, is dynastic heir to the imperial throne. Madame Bonaparte employed every means to maintain the legality of her marriage and the legitimacy of her son. When Napoleon III. mounted the throne, a formal trial was granted her. Jerome, the father, appealed to the council of state to forbid “Jerome Patterson” to assume the name of Bonaparte. Nevertheless, the council decreed that the son of Madame Elizabeth Patterson was entitled to the name of Bonaparte, although he could not be recognized as a member of the imperial family. After the death of Jerome she brought suit for a share in his estate; but documentary proofs, the fact that the validity of her marriage had been sustained by the church, and the zeal and eloquence of her advocate, Berryer, did not prevent an adverse decision, probably inspired by the imperial court. Her son was, however, recognized by official decree as a legitimate child of France. Jerome Bonaparte, the son, refused to sue for the hand of a daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, as his mother desired, and married Miss Williams, of Roxbury, Mass. Alienated by her proud and ambitious temper both from her son and her father, Madame Bonaparte passed much of her time in Europe, where her unfortunate position attracted sympathy and attention. She inherited a part of her father's wealth in the form of real property in Baltimore, which rose in value and made her a millionaire. She became penurious and misanthropic, but retained her noble manner and brilliant conversational powers. She passed many winters in Florence, and counted with pride royal and distinguished persons among her acquaintance. After the downfall of the second empire and the death of Napoleon III., she actively put forward the claims of her grandson, Col. Bonaparte, who had served with distinction in the French army, and hoped to see him called to the regency, or perhaps to the imperial throne. — Jerome Napoleon, Madame Bonaparte's son, b. in Camberwell, England, 7 July, 1805; d. in Baltimore, where he had passed his life, 17 June, 1870. He was graduated at Harvard in 1826, and studied law, but did not practise. He was never naturalized as an American citizen, and cultivated terms of intimacy with his father and the French court. His management of his inherited fortune and the property that came to him by marriage made him one of the richest residents of Baltimore. He left two sons, who inherited his and their grandmother's wealth. — The elder, Jerome Napoleon, b. in Baltimore, 5 Nov., 1830; d. at Pride's Crossing, Mass., 3 Sept., 1893. He was graduated at the U. S. military academy, but resigned from the service on 16 Aug., 1854, and was appointed a lieutenant of dragoons in the French imperial army. He served through the Crimean war, distinguishing himself at Balaklava, Inkerman, Tchernaia, and the siege of Sebastopol, and received the decoration of the Medjidie order from the sultan of Turkey, the Crimean medal from the queen of England, and became a knight of the legion of honor. Being then transferred to the chasseurs d'Afrique, he served as lieutenant, and afterward as captain in that corps in the Algerian campaign of 1857, and in several actions against the Kabyles. In the Italian campaign against Austria he served with distinction in the battles of Montebello and Solferino and in various skirmishes, receiving French and Italian decorations. He was promoted to the rank of chef d'escadron in 1865, and in 1867 transferred to the empress's dragoon guards. — The younger grandson of Madame Bonaparte, Charles Joseph, b. in Baltimore, Md., 9 June, 1851, was graduated at Harvard in 1871, and at the Harvard law school in 1874, was admitted to practice, and has attained a respectable rank at the Baltimore bar.