Napoleon and Lowe are continually at war, as Napoleon fights his last campaign against his British gaolers on St Helena.
From the first day of his arrival on St Helena, Napoleon never ceased making trouble for his British gaolers and in particular for the Governor Sir Hudson Lowe.
Lowe had been appointed for his administrative skills and because he was considered to be a ‘safe pair of hands’.
However, his previous experience (See also Sir Hudson Lowe in the St Helena topic) had not fitted him for a campaign fought by the man who had dominated the whole of Europe for over 20 years.
Where Napoleon was supple and cunning, Lowe was stubborn and resistant.
The relationship was not just fraught from its first day but became increasingly poisonous as time went on and as the two men divided St Helena into two opposing camps: those who admired Napoleon and supported his efforts to obtain better conditions for himself and his Household and those who wished him dead and gone.
These two camps were divided along a number of lines.
First, there was Napoleon’s campaign to be released and be allowed to return to Europe as the retired emperor or revised ruler of France.
This was supported by many individuals and groups in France who were bitterly against the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty and its revengeful policies. This was opposed by Royalists who were returning to France and sought revenge for their treatment during and after the French Revolution and the Allied Powers who had spent so much blood and treasure defeating Napoleon over so many years.
There was no way whatsoever that the Allies would allow Napoleon to return.
However, this did not stop him making continual trouble for his gaolers by communicating his ideas and demands to his supporters and these included like-minded populations in North and South America, which were both alternative destinations for his proposed come-back (See also The British invasions of South America 1806 & 1807 and The war of 1812 on the Chesapeake in the Empire of the Oceans topic).
The first stage of Napoleon’s last campaign was therefore waged against Britain and its allies and was carried out in two main ways.
Visitors to Longwood House
First, by attempting to influence the many visitors who came by his lodgings at Longwood House (See Napoleon at Longwood House in this topic). Britain’s command of the southern oceans was leading to its almost total domination of the East. India was experiencing rapid development now increasingly under the control of the East India Company (See Nathaniel Dance & the East India Company in the Empire of the Oceans topic) and British merchants were becoming fabulously wealthy.
The EICs vessels were in constant movement across the oceans carrying cargoes to European markets and with them travelled all manner of people: Crown and EIC officials, military men and their wives; politicians of all persuasions and merchants either out-going to seek their fortunes in the East or returning from it vastly enriched.
These individuals were by no means universal in their hatred of Napoleon and all that he had stood for. There was fierce debate throughout Europe about the merit of his ideas about democracy and the slogan of the French Revolution of Liberte, Fraternite, Equalitie and nowhere was this more acute than in post-war Great Britain.
Although the country was governed by the Tories led by Lord Liverpool and the Duke of Wellington, the voices of reform were loud and the Whig opposition was in favour of expanding the voting franchise (See also ‘The Holland House Set in the London topic). A country-wide movement of protest was developing led by the mythological Captain Swing and rick burning, machine breaking and wider agricultural unrest took place. In urban areas mass protests in favour of reform were held, one of which led to the so-called Peterlee massacre in Manchester when the County Yeomanry ran down the crowd and 19 people were trampled to death and the British Government believed that there was a serious risk of insurrection along similar lines to that which had occurred in Ireland (See also The Irish Rebellion in the Empire of the Oceans topic).
The Whigs exploited Napoleon’s harsh imprisonment for domestic political purposes and made trouble for the Cabinet using parliamentary debates to highlight the iniquities he faced on a daily basis.