Was Napoleon III American?

Could it be that history told us lies? We know for a fact that not all the things that happened are true. Of course, some of the historical events cannot be denied because of evidence provided, but what if some people were not who they claimed to be. The person we are referring to is Napoleon III. American press published a story about this character in 1858, and the story comes from Louise Mercier on her sick bed, five years before the publication.

According to Louise Mercier, she held a saloon in Grand-street, and both males and females were visiting this place. She was selling refreshments inside, but the guests could pay for rooms upstairs and have private parties with dinner. Mercier claimed that one of her regular customers was Louis Napoleon, the son of Louis Bonaparte, the great French Emperor. Louis Napoleon loved to spend time in the saloon, and he wasn’t shy with the ladies. One of the girls he became very close was known to the police, and her name was believed to be Julia V, although she went by the name of Josefina Ballabo. However, Louis was also close with a French Canadian girl known as Petite Little.

Louis Napoleon spent a lot of time with an acquaintance he met at the saloon and who spoke perfect French. Mrs. Mercier believed that he was actually from France, but he told her that he was from Boston, but lived in France for almost his entire life. She managed to take a letter and found out that his name was Lyman Claflin Bowen. The four were often in the upper rooms, and the Prince didn’t hide his identity.

It was a usual night at the saloon when the Prince and his companions ordered wine and cards. The party lasted for a while, and Bowen suddenly ran down the stairs yelling for help because the Prince was seized. Mrs. Mercier found him dead on the floor, and there was nothing two girls and a young man could do about it. She had a foreign Prince dead in her saloon, and this would definitely wreak havoc. The young Bowen looked like the prince, and he suggested they hide the body before they get rid of it. To calm the waters, he would take his watch and sail to Europe, where Prince Napoleon was supposed to meet with his ill mother in Switzerland. The next night they buried the body and Bowen had a plan to sail as a prince and try his luck in Europe.

The Prince’s mother Queen Hortense died before or just after he arrived in Switzerland. Even though desperately ill, had she seen the man, would she recognize that it wasn’t her son? Mrs. Mercier wanted to remind Bowen of who he was after he contrived to become the new President of the Republic. She wrote ‘Have you forgotten the Grand St. Saloon. I have moved, and am now living at the old place in Walker-street. Petite died here in great distress about two years ago; your old chum Josefina keeps a house in Broome street. We want you to keep your promise?’ and he responded. After three months a stranger appeared at her doorstep with 1,000 dollars from President Louis Napoleon ‘as a remembrance of kind services rendered to him when he was sick in New York.’ According to Mrs. Mercier, she received another 1,000 dollars once more, and Josefina also got her share.

Could this story be true? It is only a rumor and finding evidence for it would be difficult. However, the Napoleons are connected to a large number of such strange tales. We are curious to know what you think about it.


As one of the founders of Knjaz Milos tries to bring all the latest news regarding politics. He loves history and is passionate about writing.
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