30-LOUISIANA TO TRAFALGAR

KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE, AND KNOW INNER PEACE

When Nathan moved to the City and took charge of the Goldsmid Bros. Bank, he was also taking charge of Bonaparte. One of the first things he did was help his father push through the Louisiana Purchase, and he was very successful, for the Treaties of Mortefontaine and San Ildefonso were both signed in 1800, and the Quasi-War came to a halt that same year.

Following the signing of the agreements, Bonaparte sent 35,000 French troops to free the eastern part of Santa Domingo in order to give it back to the Spanish as promised. But Bonaparte had another idea in the back of his head, for he intended to double-cross whoever was financing the deal. Once in Hispaniola, instead of freeing the island, he would use it as a military base. Being close to the USA, he could then easily land his troops in New Orleans and occupy Louisiana instead of selling it, and there was nobody to stop him. By occupying the land west of the Mississippi, a land France already owned, the French would create a bigger and more important country than the 13 loose-knitted English speaking Colonies on the east coast.

However, Nathan got word of his intentions, and was preparing to send in the English Navy to put things right when Bonaparte’s army was wiped out by yellow fever. Because the few remaining troops had to return to France, Bonaparte had no choice but to sell Louisiana to the Americans as arranged. However, he hadn’t lost out completely, for he still pocketed the sale proceeds. It was a win-win situation for all parties. The Americans got a deal beyond their wildest dreams, and the 15 million dollars went directly to Bonaparte. It was enough to satisfy all of Bonaparte’s ambitions, and he following year, in 1804, he crowned himself Napoleon. The megalomaniac had become emperor, and it was henceforth up to Nathan to keep him in check with the help of Talleyrand that he was indirectly controlling through Ouvrard.

After the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine with the USA, and the Treaty of San Ildefonso with Spain, the Quasi-War came to an end. The promised Louisiana Purchase that had been the bait was completed in 1803, the financing of the deal is proof of Mayer’s involvement. 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 the First Bank of the United States that proposed a loan, just like Mayer had wanted. Not only would this deal make First Bank of the United States indispensable, but the Louisiana Purchase would allow Congress to open up the west.

To everyone’s surprise, when Congress offered to pay fifteen million dollars for the port of New Orleans alone, 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. What is never mentioned is that the intent was to unite Rupert’s Land north of the 49th parallel to Lower Canada. The straight line represented by the 49th parallel was drawn by the same ‘divine’ power that had devised the Manifest Destiny concept. 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.

Nathan let Bonaparte have the proceeds in order to encourage him to accept the deal in the first place, but also to give him the means to crown himself Emperor Napoleon, which he did at Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, on December 2, 1804. The megalomaniac gladly did what was expected of him, because in establishing order throughout France he was ensuring his renown. He started by ramming 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 were given full powers in the departments, and the mayors answered directly to them. France thus became the centralist state that it is to this day.

But, in 1804, what remained of the French Navy was still very much commanded by Royalists. Therefore, in wanting to finish off the French Navy, Nathan, wanting Napoleon to invade England, told Ouvrard to promise the Emperor through Talleyrand all the financing needed if he decided to do so. The plan would unfold, and when the French fleet would be at its most vulnerable, Nathan would leak the information to the English Admiralty who would be pleased to have Admiral Nelson finish the job.

Since Aboukir, the French Navy had been rehabilitated by Latouche-Tréville, but it was Admiral Villeneuve, the same one who had fled at Aboukir who was given command of the fleet. Nelson, who was chosen to command the English fleet and who had great respect for Admiral Latouche-Tréville who had once routed him, didn’t know that the French had replaced him with Villeneuve. So, when Villeneuve took off for the Caribbean, Nelson thought it was Latouche-Tréville, and that he was headed for Egypt. Thanks to favorable winds, Villeneuve kept well ahead of Nelson and Napoleon’s deception worked. Villeneuve went to the Caribbean, and Nelson went 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, who had fled before Nelson at Aboukir, fled yet again.

But Napoleon was following a clever plan. By having his navy invade a few islands, he made the English Admiralty think the French were taking over in the Caribbean. Then, as expected, most of the English Navy was dispatched to the Caribbean, thus freeing the French ports that had been under siege. Villeneuve seized the opportunity and took off as fast as he could for Europe, heading for Boulogne-Sur-Mer where Napoleon and his Imperial Army were waiting. All the French ships from the now liberated French ports were to join him there and everything was going marvellously well for Napoleon. Then, for some unknown reason, Villeneuve 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. No doubt, Villeneuve had been intercepted and ordered to do just that. Until then, the plan to invade England had been unfolding flawlessly. 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 Ocean was now under the control of only one navy, the English Navy. The Atlantic community could now flourish. Napoleon had to abandon his plan to invade England, but he was encouraged instead to go seek fame and fortune by attacking the Ancien Regime powers to the east. And since he kept all the spoils of victory, 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. It marked the beginning of the end for all the Ancien Regime countries. A year later, the Holy German Empire was abolished and replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine, with Napoleon as ‘protector’.

Napoleon then took time out to tidy up his personal life. He wanted a male heir, and since Josephine couldn’t give him one, he divorced her. He married Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810, and the King of Rome was born in 1811. As far as Nathan was concerned, with the French Navy gone, with Napoleon having restructured France and with the Holy German Empire defeated, the Emperor and his Imperial Army were no longer needed. But there was one more thing Napoleon could do before he was given the coup de grace, he could go to Russia and force the Tsar to let private companies mine for gold in the Urals.

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29-THE QUASI-WAR

KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE, AND KNOW INNER PEACE

In 1798, the French Republicans, feeling betrayed by the USA, wanted the latter to return the French aid package that had helped them win their independence in 1781. Since Congress was in no position to do that, there was no telling what the disorganized French government of the times would do. It was quite a threat, and if Mayer was to defuse the situation, he needed to have a strong presence in the City. That same year, he sent his very able 21-year-old son Nathan to England. Mayer’s plan was to get the American Congress to send diplomats to France and offer to compensate France by having the USA buy the unoccupied French lands west of the Mississippi, while Nathan worked on a plan to have the English Navy destroy the very royalist and redundant French Navy.

The Quasi-War, as it became known, had to do with 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 superseding that agreement. The French and many Americans had been incensed, for it had been seen as a treacherous act by both the US Congress and the Directorate in France. Naturally, the French revolutionaries insisted on the return of the 500 tons of French gold given to America in 1778.

When Mayer asked Robert Morris to get Congress to send an American delegation to Paris to offer compensation by putting the Louisiana Purchase on the table, he was sure it would work. If America bought the Louisiana lands from France, the latter would receive a huge sum of money and the Quasi-War would stop. But first, 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. Barras was to get Talleyrand to have the Spanish sign a treaty. He was to promise the Spanish that the half of San Domingo that belonged to them and was presently occupied by France would be returned to them in exchange for New Orleans. Once this was done, he would get the Americans to buy the whole of Louisiana from the French, and it would more than compensate for France’s generosity in 1778.

However, 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. Meanwhile, the French Navy continued seizing and sinking American merchant ships in the Caribbean, while the fledgling US Navy retaliated as best it could. That’s where things stood in 1798, and from Mayer’s point of view, the Quasi-War had to be stopped before it escalated.

Mayer especially didn’t want the English Navy getting involved in the Quasi-War. 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 was definitely not an enemy, and because America, England and France were unofficially trading partners, one navy was all that was needed, the English Navy.

Nathan was to use Bonaparte in order to get part of the French Navy destroyed, stopping the Quasi-War in the process, and it had to be done without his knowledge. Since Bonaparte was being groomed as France’s soon-to-be strongman, he had to be handled with care. Nathan would tell Ouvrard to do whatever was necessary to get Talleyrand and Barras to send young Bonaparte on his Egyptian campaign, and we know what happened to the French Navy in that campaign.

The French Navy would be completely destroyed at Trafalgar a few years later, but for now, the important thing was to put an end to the Quasi-War. Finally, in 1800, when Bonaparte became 1st Consul, a deal was struck regarding the Louisiana Purchase, and the non-existent French-American naval war stopped. The Louisiana Purchase would be finalized in 1803 and it would give Bonaparte the wherewithal to declare himself Emperor Napoleon.

In London, Nathan was doing very well. By 1810, he had taken over from the Goldsmid Bros. and created his own bank, making him the most powerful banker in the City. His bank had immediately started setting the daily price of gold for the whole world. However, because Mayer had wanted to make sure Nathan didn’t have any official ties with him or the First Bank of the United States, Nathan opened his bank in the City, using his own name. That way, all possible ties to a father who lived in a ghetto, to the First Bank of the United States, and to the French real estate scam disappeared. Nobody would ever know where all that power and gold came from. Anonymity was the key to success.

Other than wanting to do a good job and making his father proud, Nathan had another pressing personal matter. He had been introduced to two families in London, and though it had been Moses Elias Montefiore’s family that had taken him in, Nathan had closer ties to the Levy-Barent Cohen family from when he was 18. In 1795, on a trip to America with his father and brothers, they had stopped over in London, and that’s when Nathan had met Hannah Cohen who was 12 at the time. When he arrived in London in 1798, he was quite anxious to see the girl he had dreamt about during all those years.

He lost no time in founding a family. In 1806 he married Hannah Cohen, in 1808 Lionel was born, and in 1809 he moved to St. Swithin’s Lane in New Court, where he proceeded to set up the official home of his banking dynasty. But first, Nathan had to take over from the Goldsmid Bros.

In taking over from the Goldsmid Bros., he was helped by destiny. Benjamin Goldsmid committed suicide in 1808 just prior to Nathan’s moving to Swithin’s Lane. It was said that Benjamin had been depressed for some time. When his 19-year old son converted to Anglicanism, it had shaken him up, and when his wife and daughters followed suite, it appeared to do him in. At that time, he had expressed the thought that he was saddened by the thought of being the last Jew in his family, and no doubt, that had led him to be further depressed, enough to take his life. One morning, he was found in his bedroom dangling at the end of his bathrobe chord.

Abraham was troubled by his brother’s suicide, and doubly so because he was now alone in facing his firm’s business obligations. He had bought £14,000,000 of Government Consols, and in order to do so he had contracted a sizeable loan with the East India Company in Amsterdam. In 1810, for reasons unknown to the public, the East India Company called in Abraham’s loan. That of course forced him to sell the Consols at below market, thus making him suffer a huge loss that resulted in the insolvency of the firm. Abraham honorably used the whole of his personal assets to pay back what he owed, and that left him penniless. He committed suicide in 1810. A handgun was found near his body lying in a wooded area not far from his home.

While Nathan was in the process of creating his bank in the City, Napoleon had turned France into an orderly centralist state. Napoleon had then been encouraged to go and defeat what was left of the Holy Roman Empire in Eastern Europe, which was achieved at the Battle of Austerlitz. By 1810, Napoleon had served his purpose by destroying most of the Ancien regimes, and it was time to get rid of him. But Nathan thought he could use him one last time by sending him to Russia in order to force the Tsar to open the country to private gold mining, and perhaps to let the Tsar know that there was an international power much bigger than Russia. There would always be time to get rid of Napoleon later.