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Achille Murat Letters

 Collection
Identifier: MS 276

Scope and Content

The Achille Murat letters are all in French and are all addressed to Comte Thibaudeau. With one exception they are all written in Murat's hand. They are arranged chronologically from 1822 to 1841. Two letters are undated and lack an address. Usually letters identify the place where Murat resided when the letter was written and many also contain a receipt and reply date at the top. A few have notes or clarifications written on them in a hand other than Murat's.

Printed transcriptions of the letters are included with the originals. There are also two folders containing copies of transcriptions and partial translations of some of the letters into English.

Murat's letters touch on several topics from personal to political. He often describes his daily life in Florida, including his opinion on the customs of American citizens. He discusses with Thibaudeau several ideas for the books he later published. He mentions his family life in several of the letters, discussing his brother and his uncle, Joseph Bonaparte. One of his letters mentions an alleged affair with a 14 year-old slave girl. She committed suicide after giving birth to Murat's child. His letters also contain allusions to his support of slavery in the South.

Murat notes several people he met and knew well, including governors W.P. Duval and Richard Keith Call. He often expresses his political views on American government, France, and other European nations. These letters provide insight into life in Florida through the eyes of a foreigner who identified himself as American.

Dates

  • 1822-1841

Creator

Access

The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

Achille Murat was born in 1801 in Paris, the son of Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, and the nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte. During Napoleon's time in power, Murat was part of the family dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Naples. After his father's death and the downfall of Napoléon, he was placed under house arrest in Austria with his remaining family. In 1822, aggravated with Austrian surveillance of his family and inspired by his appreciation for America, he made his way across the Atlantic to make a better life for himself.

In 1823 Murat moved to Florida and resided for while as a planter and attorney near St. Augustine. At this time he began to write about his observations on American politics and life in Florida. He relocated to Tallahassee around 1825 and established a plantation that he called Lipona, an anagram for "Napoli." In 1826 he married Catherine Gray, great-grand-niece of George Washington. His book Esquisse morale et politique des États-Unis de l'Amérique du Nord appeared first in French in 1832 and was later translated into English as The United States of America (1833) and America and the Americans (1849). Another work, Exposition des principes du gouvernement républicain, tel qu'il a été perfectionné en Amérique, dedicated to Andrew Jackson, appeared in 1833. Murat long-identified himself as an American citizen and his writings were often in praise of the country's accomplishments and culture.

Many of his observations were first written in letters to his former tutor, Comte Antoine Thibaudeau. Murat's correspondence with Thibaudeau discussed various topics of his personal life as well as his experiences as an American citizen.

He returned to Europe in 1830 after the outbreak of the "July Revolution" in France and served briefly as colonel of the Belgian Legion. While there, he unsuccessfully attempted to restore his family fortune. In 1834 he returned to the Tallahassee area empty-handed. He died in 1847 and was buried in Tallahassee at the St. John's Episcopal Church Cemetery.

Extent

0.5 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials

French

Abstract

Correspondence between Achille Murat and Comte Thibaudeau on various topics, including Murat's life in Florida, his views on American government, and observations of American life.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Material

Items in this collection have been digitized and are available via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) as part of the Pioneer Days in Florida project, which is generously supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

Other material on Achille Murat can be found in the Prince Achille Murat Papers at the Department of Special Collections at Stanford University in California, which contains correspondence from the date range 1809 to 1845. Materials pertaining to his wife Catherine can be found at the State Library and Archives of Florida.
Title
A Guide to the Achille Murat Letters
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid created by Cassandra Lema
Date
November 2010
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is written in English.
Sponsor
Digitization funded with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

Contact:
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America
352-273-2755