Napoleon Conquers & Lewis & Clark Explore The Early 1800’s

Napoleon Conquers & Lewis & Clark Explore The Early 1800’s May 15, 2024


After The Revolution Was A Heck Of A Ride Around The Sun |
A Timeline Of The Years 1785 – 1799. (

Napoleon Crossing the Alpsromantic version by Jacques-Louis David in 1805

1800: A Time To Start the 19th Century

The new century started off with a time problem. As of March 1(O.S. February 18), when the Julian calendar acknowledged a leap day and the Gregorian calendar did not, the Julian calendar fell one day further behind, bringing the difference to 12 days until February 28 (O.S. February 16), 1900.

As of the start of 1805, the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

The 19th century also started off with a new pope. On March 14, 1800 the  Papal conclave, 1799–1800 took place in which the Catholic church elected its 251st vicar of Christ, cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti aka. Pius VIIPius VI died the previous year in captivity at Valence France, on August 29, 1799. All popes have to deal with problems of some kind. Pius VII had to deal with the conquering frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte who was starting battles wherever he could lead his army.

Napoleon and the Pope

On July 18, 1801   Napoleon signed a Concordat with the pope making the Catholic church great again in France and making everything okay dokey with the Vatican. The concordat actually remained in effect until 1905, except in Alsace-Lorraine, where it remains in force to this very day.  

Relations between the pope and Napoleon were cool for several years until 1809 when on May 17  Napoleon I of France ordered the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire. When he announced to the Pius that his  secular power was over he did what any good pope would do in the situation. He excommunicated him. Which led to  French troops arresting Pope Pius VII on July 6  and taking him to Liguria.

Napoleon Bonaparte and Barnaba Chiaramonti, the future Pope Pius VII, were born into a world where the belfries of churches dominated the landscape. Before 1789, religious participation and worship were not mere notions, but were at the very marrow of European identity. The future emperor and pope were both born Italian Catholics. Both, too, had aristocratic roots. Physically they resembled each other. Their dark hair, eyes and tanned skin were decidedly Italian. Both were of average height, and of slim build. The biggest contrast was their gaze: where Napoleon’s was fiery and intense, Pius’s was beneficent, kindly. They shared little when it came to values and outlook. The deeply spiritual, phlegmatic and gentle pope was in decided contrast to the materialistic, cynical and energetic revolutionary emperor.
Ambrogio A Caiani, To Kidnap a Pope: Napoleon and Pius VII (2021). Yale University Press.

Napoleon’s Greatest Hits

Here are some highlights of the Napoleon’s greatest hits during the first decade of the 19th century. Many more will probably be shown in the new film about his life.

Depicted as First Consul on the 1803 20 gold Napoléon gold coin


While Napoleon was once again enshrining slavery in France, elsewhere it was starting to be frowned upon more and more. Of course it was frowned upon by slaves themselves. On August 30, 1800  a slave uprising tried to happen with a plot by African-American blacksmith and slave Gabriel Prosser. His goal was  to seize Richmond, Virginia, but was called off on an account of rain.  There was  a massive downpour on the evening that it is set to begin which lead two other slaves to spill the beans on Prosser’s plans to authorities. In the end  25 slaves, including Prosser were captured, tried and hanged.

In the following years there was one of the only successful slave revolts in Haiti in 1804. On January 1  of that year Haiti gains its independence from France, and becomes the first black republic. February 22–April 22  the new government took their new found freedom and  began an ethnic cleansing with the goal of eradicating the white population on Haiti  in the 1804 Haiti massacre,

In 1808 on January 1 The importation of slaves into the United States is BANNED. The 1807 Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves kicks in however African slaves continue to be imported into Cuba, and until the island abolishes slavery in 1865, half a million slaves will arrive on the island. It was a start. Meanwhile on March 1  of that year the slave trade is abolished by the United Kingdom in all of its colonies as the Slave Trade Act 1807 takes effect. This year, the British Royal Navy establishes the West Africa Squadron on the coast of West Africa to enforce the abolitionist Blockade of Africa. The former tyrants of the British colonies score early then the colonies in validating human rights.  William Wilberforce (August 24, 1759 –  July 29, 1833) was the English politician and  leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade which led to slavery’s extinction in England. His story is told in the 2006 film Amazing Grace, and was released in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Parliament’s anti-slave trade legislation. was released in 2007 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Parliament’s anti-slave trade legislation.

Besides outlawing slavery On December 2, 1802 the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act in the United Kingdom comes into effect, regulating conditions for child labour in factories. Although poorly enforced, it pioneers a series of Factory Acts.

Lewis and Clark and The Louisiana Purchase

Corps of Discovery meet Chinooks on the Lower Columbia, October 1805 (painted by Charles Marion Russelc. 1905)

Interestingly on  June 1, 1905. The Lewis and Clark Exposition opened in Portland, Oregon. While Napoleon was conquering Europe these two american explorers participated in an adventure named The Lewis and Clark Expedition, which officially began at 4 pm on May 14, 1804 when these legendary men and 11 others that formed the Corps of Discovery departed departed from Camp Dubois (Camp Wood) on the Ohio River. Off they went so they could cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase from the French.

What sprung the Louisiana Purchase to life was on October 16, 1802 – The port of New Orleans and the lower Mississippi River were closed to American traffic by order of the city’s Spanish administrator, Juan Ventura Morales, threatening the economy in the western United States, and prompting the need for the Louisiana Purchase. On July 4, 1803 The Louisiana Purchase was  announced to the American people. On October 20, 1803 The Senate ratified it doubling the size of the United States.

On August 20, 1804 The Lewis and Clark Expedition suffered its only death when the first person to sign up for the trip, Sergeant Charles Floyd died apparently from acute appendicitis.

On March 23, 1806 Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery, having reached the Pacific Ocean after traveling through the Louisiana Purchase, begin their journey home.

On September 23, 1806 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition reaches St. Louis, Missouri, ending a successful exploration of the Louisiana Territory and the Pacific Northwest. According to one historian, their arrival comes “much to the amazement of residents, who had given the travelers up for dead.”

Lewis died of gunshot wounds in what was either a murder or suicide, in 1809.

Other discoveries and exploration include

The Musician and the Emperor

You’ll notice that general Napoleon was now Napoleon 1 of France. That’s because in 1804 on  May 14  Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor. On May 18,1804 the French Senate gives their approval. On December 2 he so graciously crowned himself as the first Emperor of the French in a millennium Notre Dame de Paris of all places. At the time Napoleon was seizing power and Lewis and Clark were trying not to be eaten by bears and wolves in the new unexplored U.S. lands, Ludwig van Beethoven was making music. He wrote Symphony No. 3 originally dedicating it to his hero Napoleon. That is until he heard about him proclaiming himself emperor and his admiration for him was crushed. He then tore up the title page in rage and renamed it the Eroica.

“So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of Man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!” Symphony_No._3_n

Christian Horneman – Portrait miniature of Ludwig van Beethoven (1803)

It was during this decade on April 2, 1800 that Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 1 premiered at the Burgtheater, in Vienna.

It was during this decade on March 3, 1802 that Beethoven published his Piano Sonata No. 14, commonly known as the “Moonlight Sonata” (Mondschein), in Vienna; the availability of the sheet music is announced by Giovanni Cappi in the newspaper Wiener Zeitung. 

It was during this decade on November 20, 1805 that Beethoven‘s only opera Fidelio, in its original form (known retrospectively as Leonore), is premiered at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, which at this time is under French military occupation.

But it wasn’t until December 22, 1808 when Beethoven when entirely of first public performances of works by him where played in a marathon benefit concert, at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Included in this concert were Symphony No. 5Symphony No. 6Piano Concerto No. 4 and Choral Fantasy.

Good ol Beethoven is not the only musician to make music in this decade. One other example is that on April 24, 1801   Joseph Haydn‘s oratorio The Seasons is premièred as Die Jahreszeiten in Vienna for its aristocratic patrons at the Palais Schwarzenberg; it has its public première on May 19 at the Redoutensaal.

Meanwhile in Washington D.C.

While the election of 1800 was going on, current U.S. President John Adams became the first President of the United States to live in the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House) on November 1, 1800.

Directed by Michael Bay

During the 1800 United States presidential election which was only the fourth quadrennial presidential election in U.S. history the Electoral College casted votes for president and Vice President that results in an unusual tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, requiring a contingent election which would select Jefferson as president. On July 27, 1804 The Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was passed. It reformed the way that candidates for President and Vice President were chosen by requiring that electoral ballots distinctly list the choice for president and the choice for vice president.

March 4, 1805 – Thomas Jefferson is sworn in for a second term as President of the United States.

On March 4, 1809 – James Madison is sworn in as the fourth President of the United States.

Politicians Who Kill

If you really thought Donald Trump was all that bad take a look at Raymond Burr. On July 11, 1804  Aaron Burr becomes (I believe) the first vice president in office to shoot and kill someone.  He got into a spat with former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton  and during a duel he shoots him and Hamilton dies the next day. That Burr really was quite a character.

On February 19, 1809 in Sweet Home Alabama, Burr was tried for conspiracy, but acquitted.  According to the accusations against Burr, he attempted to use his international connections and support from a cabal of US planters, politicians, and army officers to establish an independent country in the Southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. Burr’s version was that he intended to farm 40,000 acres (160 km2) in the Texas Territory which had been leased to him by the Spanish Crown.

Burr is not the only early U.S. politician to kill someone in  duel. On May 30, 1806 Future President of the United States Andrew Jackson fights his second duel, killing  Charles Dickinson American attorney, famous duelist and an expert marksman.

The Other big U.S. News of this decade include


There’s More.

Jacques-Louis David Portrait of Madame Récamier-1800

1801When Were the Gospels Written?  Church of England bishop Herbert Marsh (December 10, 1757 –   May 1, 1839)  advanced a proto-gospel hypothesis, in his Dissertation. He  deduced that there had been an original Aramaean gospel-narrative which had been translated into Greek, and had been circulated in copies into which additional information was afterwards added or interpolated. This became known as the  two-source hypothesis (or 2SH). This Hypothesis proposes that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written independently, each using Mark and a second hypothetical document called “Q” as a source.

Philip James de Loutherbourg – An Avalanche in the Alps 1803

  • February 25, 1803 – A major redistribution of territorial sovereignty within the Holy Roman Empire is enacted, via an act known as the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss. I only included this fact because of the interesting long word used in this trivia.
  • September 6, 1803 – John Dalton, British scientist, begins using symbols to represent the atoms of different elements.

David WilkieThe Blind Fiddler 1806

  •  April 4, 1806 – Daniel Lambert  an English gaol keeper and animal breeder from Leicester, badly needed to earn money, and saw no alternative to putting himself on display, and charging his spectators. He weighed 50 stone (700 lb; 320 kg), and had become the heaviest authenticated person up to that point in recorded history.  At 53 Piccadilly, then near the western edge of London for five hours each day, he welcomed visitors into his home, charging each a shilling (about £4.31 as of 2021) so they could see his enormous size.

Portrait by Benjamin Marshallc. 1806

I’ve displayed art and music of this decade. It wouldn’t be complete without

Publications Hot Off the Press

  • January 1800 – Maria Edgeworth‘s first extended work of fiction, Castle Rackrent (“an Hibernian Tale: Taken from Facts, and from the Manners of the Irish Squires, Before the Year 1782”), is published anonymously in London, variously regarded as the first historical novel, the first regional novel in English, the first Anglo-Irish novel, the first Big House novel, the first saga novel and the first with an unreliable narrator

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

There are more interesting historical persons and things that happened during this first decade of the 19th century that I didn’t include.

But here are some of the many popular individuals who arrived and departed during the decade.


  •  February 26, 1802 – Victor Hugo, Hatchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables author (d. 1885)
  • April 4, 1802 – Dorothea Dix, American activist (d. 1887)
  • July 24, 1802 – Alexandre Dumas, 3 Musketeers Author (d. 1870)
  • January 19, 1807 – Robert E. Lee, American Confederate general (d. 1870)
  • January 28, 1807 – Robert McClure, Irish-born Arctic explorer (d. 1873)


But Those are some of the biggest names, players  and events to dominate the early 1800s which was a heck of ar ride around the sun.

Much of the information gathered for this article was taken directly from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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