1814: The Year in Review

Napoleon's exile to Elba

I wish I could tell you that 1814 was a year of peace compared to 1914–but it wouldn’t be true. In fact, the two years look an awful lot alike–emphasis on the awful. The allied powers of Europe fighting an aggressive empire. A generation of young men damaged by war. Belgian fields trampled into mud by booted feet.

Here are some of the highlights (or low points, depending on your point of view):

The British burned Washington D.C. during the War of 1812, much of which actually took place in 1814. (From the American perspective, the War of 1812 was a final blow for independence. From the British perspective, it was an annoying distraction from their war against Napoleon.)

Among the buildings burned was the fledging Library of Congress. Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his private library (6487 books!) to Congress as a replacement. It was a good deal for both the American people and Jefferson, who was good at just about everything except managing his money.

Mexico took advantage of the confusion caused by the Napoleonic Wars and declared its independence after three hundred years of Spanish rule.

Napoleon was exiled to Elba Island with a pension from the French government. He was given sovereignty over the island and allowed to retain the title of Emperor. How could anyone have thought this would turn out well?

Sir Walter Scott published his first novel, Waverly–which went on to become the first international bestseller.

What would you add to the list?

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