32-QUASI-WAR & TRAFALGAR

The Quasi-War was a result of the signing of Jay’s Treaty in 1793, a trade agreement that Mayer and Benjamin had deemed indispensable to the growth of the American economy. America and France had signed the Treaty of Alliance in 1778, and Jay’s Treaty was putting an end to that agreement. The French and many Americans were incensed, for it was seen as a treacherous act by both the US Congress and the Directorate in France. Naturally, the French revolutionaries retaliated by insisting on the return of the 500 tons of gold given to America in 1778.

Since Congress was in no position to do that, the French revolutionary government’s navy started sinking American merchant ships. If Mayer was to defuse the situation before it got out of hand, he needed to have a strong presence in the City, and in 1798, he sent his 21-year-old son Nathan to England. Mayer then asked Robert Morris to get the American Congress to send diplomats to France and offer to compensate France by having the USA buy the French territory west of the Mississippi. Mayer’s bank would do the financing and pay handsomely. As for Nathan, once the Louisiana was completed, he was to devise a way to get rid of the very royalist and redundant French Navy.

When Robert Morris suggested that Congress send an American delegation to Paris and offer to buy New Orleans for 15 million dollars, he was sure it would be accepted, for that was also of opening the Mississippi to Atlantic trade. As for Bonaparte, he was sure to accept, for he would have enough money to crown himself emperor. But before the sale could be completed and the Quasi-War stopped, France had to reclaim the port of New Orleans that they had ceded to the Spanish when they left America after the Treaty of Paris, in 1763. Talleyrand was to get the Spanish to sign a treaty by promising them the return of half of San Domingo, that was presently occupied by France, in exchange for New Orleans.

However, this ambitious project was to be delayed. When the American delegation, consisting of three diplomats, arrived in Paris, they were treated very poorly by the Marquis of Talleyrand who had the gall to request personal compensation in order to intervene on their behalf. The American diplomats were so shocked by this turn of events that they returned immediately to America to report to Congress. Both parties in Congress spoke with one voice in condemning the French response to their genuine peace overture. So, the Quasi-War continued, and the French Navy continued seizing and sinking American merchant ships in the Caribbean.

Mayer especially didn’t want the Quasi-War to continue. He controlled the American monetary system, that of England, and indirectly that of France, and he didn’t want the three countries who were now under his financial control to be fighting each other. France, America and England were meant to become trading partners, and one navy was all that was needed, the English Navy. For now, it was urgent to finalize the Louisiana Purchase in order to compensate France.

After the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine with the USA and the Treaty of San Ildefonso with Spain in 1800, the Quasi-War came to an end. The promised Louisiana Purchase that had been the bait was completed in 1803, thanks to Mayer’s bank, the 1st Bank of the USA. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the thirteen Colonies had around seven million dollars in revenues, a 3.2-million-dollar deficit, and didn’t yet collect taxes. Naturally, it was Mayer’s bank that provided the funds according to Mayer’s wishes. The deal not only confirmed the First Bank of the United States’ status, but the Louisiana Purchase allowed Congress to open up the west.

To everyone’s surprise, when Congress offered to pay fifteen million dollars for the port of New Orleans, Napoleon sweetened the deal by throwing in at no extra charge all of the French possessions, including Rupert’s Land, a territory that in large part is Canada today. That was, indeed, a mind-boggling offer, and though Congress couldn’t believe its luck, it didn’t bother to question this ‘divine’ intervention. Then a straight line representing the 49th parallel was drawn across the continent by the same ‘divine’ power that had devised the Manifest Destiny concept. When Rupert’s Land north of the 49th parallel was joined to Lower Canada, the territory became in fact what is today Canada. America was on its way to becoming a coast to coast nation with Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south in spite of the fact there was still a strong Mexican presence north of the Rio Grande.

In 1803, Nathan let Bonaparte have the proceeds of the Louisiana Purchase as planned, and the latter crowned himself Emperor Napoleon at Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, on December 2, 1804. The megalomaniac then gladly did what was expected of him, because in restructuring France politically he was ensuring his renown. He divided the country into departments and rammed through the Civil Code on March 21, 1805. It marked the beginning of the end for the Catholic Royalists who opposed it violently because it meant they no longer had legal recourse with regards to their confiscated property. Unperturbed, backed by Fouché’s dreaded state police, the Prefects ruled in the departments, and the mayors answered directly to them. France had become the centralist state that it is today.

The Louisiana Purchase was concluded in 1803, and Bonaparte having crowned himself Emperor Napoleon in 1804, Mayer advised Nathan, who was in charge of the dynasty’s affairs in the City, that it was a good time to get rid of what was left of the French Navy. Nathan then asked Ouvrard to do what was necessary to get Talleyrand to encourage Napoleon to put his plan to invade England into action. Napoleon then proceeded to work on his own clever plan to accomplish this. However, Nathan had his own plan. Like in the Battle of Aboukir in 1799, Nathan would keep abreast of Napoleon’s naval deployments, and when the French fleet would be at its most vulnerable, Nathan would leak the information to the English Admiralty who would be only too pleased to have Admiral Nelson finish the job started at Aboukir.

Since Aboukir, the French Navy had been rehabilitated by Latouche-Tréville, but surprisingly, it was Admiral Villeneuve, the same one who had fled at Aboukir, who was given command of the fleet. Napoleon’s plan was to send Villeneuve to the Caribbean, while making the English Admiralty think it was Latouche-Tréville who was headed for Egypt. Thanks to favorable winds, Napoleon’s deception worked. Villeneuve went to the Caribbean, and Nelson was sent to Egypt. By the time Nelson realized his mistake, Villeneuve had had time to rendezvous with other French units in the Caribbean thirty-two days ahead of Nelson’s arrival. Villeneuve’s Navy was shipshape, superior in fire power, and could have easily defeated Nelson, but instead of engaging the English fleet, Villeneuve took off for Boulogne-Sur-Mer where Napoleon and his Imperial Army were waiting. All the French ships from the now liberated French ports were to rendezvous at that port. Everything was going marvelously well for Napoleon when, for some unknown reason, Villeneuve was intercepted by some strange naval unit at sea. Thereafter, the French admiral made the worst decision possible, one that was as catastrophic as the one taken by de Brueys at Aboukir. Instead of continuing on to Boulogne, he turned back and headed south for the Spanish port of Cadiz. Understandably, Napoleon was furious at Villeneuve and immediately sent orders to have him removed from command. However, before receiving those orders, Villeneuve joined up with the Spanish fleet and went to attack Nelson’s fleet that had been spotted approaching from the west. Why on October 21, 1805, off Trafalgar, Villeneuve decided to attack Nelson in the worst possible weather conditions remains a mystery.

At the head of a disorganized Franco-Spanish fleet, practically in a dead calm, Villeneuve headed north to engage Nelson. When Nelson saw that Villeneuve’s ships were scattered six miles wide, he seized the opportunity and, contrary to tradition, he divided his fleet into two columns, one of which cut the Franco-Spanish fleet in two. That column went in at right angles, firing broadsides to port and starboard while remaining totally immune to enemy fire. The other column went northward and sank any enemy ship that decided to turn about and come to the rescue of the sister ships being attacked. The whole Franco-Spanish fleet was either sunk or captured. The score at Aboukir had been 13 to 0 in favor of Nelson, and now at Trafalgar it was 33 to 0 in his favor, notwithstanding the fact that he died after being shot by a French sailor from one of the damaged ships.

Nathan had to be very happy with the results, for that meant the Atlantic was now under the control of only one navy, the English Navy. The Atlantic community could now flourish. Napoleon abandoned his plan to invade England and was encouraged instead to go seek fame and fortune by attacking the Holy Roman Empire to the east. He was to personally keep all the spoils of victory, so, he was doubly motivated to go on the warpath. He defeated the Austrians in Italy and continued right into Austria where he defeated both Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II at Austerlitz in 1805. It marked the beginning of the end for all the Ancien Regime countries in Europe. A year later, the Holy Roman Empire east of the Rhine was abolished and replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine, with Napoleon as ‘protector’. Nonetheless, the Holy Roman Empire wasn’t completely done in, as we shall see later.

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