The Paris mob beheaded King Louis XVI on January 21, 1793, as the Reign of Terror was gaining momentum.
France was in debt from helping with America's independence, and from a devastating famine, possibly due to a severe El Niño weather pattern or the Laki volcanic eruption in Iceland several years earlier.
French men and women, mostly Catholics, who supported the traditional government were called Royalists.
They were suddenly hunted down by the new secular government, being accused, arrested, imprisoned, subject to shame trials, and executed by the thousands, including former Queen Marie-Antoinette,October 16, 1793.
Churches, monasteries, and convents were looted.
Carmelite nuns, the Martyrs of Compiègne, forgave their captors and sang Psalm 117, the "Laudate Dominum," as they were marched up to the guillotine and beheaded one by one.
Over 200,000 Royalist men, women and children were massacred in the Vendée area of France, 1793-1796, in what is considered the first modern genocide.
When Royalists tried defending the city of Toulon in December of 1793, a 24-year-old French artillery officer named Napoleon Bonaparte forever changed the use of artillery -- cannons on wheels.
Instead the accepted strategy of keeping cannons stationary during battles, Napoleon demonstrated his expertise by "moving his guns around like they were a pair of pistols," forcing Toulon to surrender.
As France had alliances with the Muslim Ottoman Empire for a century and a half, Napoleon was ordered to go to Constantinople to teach them his advanced artillery skills.
Napoleon refused to go.
Days later, a Royalist crowd demonstrated in from of the Tuileries Palace.
Napoleon was ordered to clear the streets, so he fired his cannons -- a whiff of grapeshot, killing over 1,400 in the 13 Vendémiaire Revolt of 1795.
The "whiff of grapeshot" fired by the cannons, as English writer Thomas Carlyle described it, was the charge of small pieces of scrape metal used for firing at close range with deadly effect.
The French Directory then made the young Napoleon General of the Army of Italy.
Napoleon won decisive victories against the Austrians and Italians in 1796.
In February of 1798, Napoleon's forces invaded Rome, and took Pope Pius VI captive where he died.
Napoleon delayed burying the Pope's body to gain political advantage.
The next Pope, Pius VII, excommunicated Napoleon, resulting in Napoleon's men kidnapping him. He was scurried out of Rome at night and confined for six years in Savona, Italy.
The French ignored treaties and seized nearly 300 American ships bound for British ports.
During this "XYZ Affair," war almost broke out.
President Adams declared a Day of Fasting, March 23, 1798, and again, March 6, 1799:
"The people of the United States are still held in jeopardy by ... insidious acts of a foreign nation ...
I hereby recommend ... a Day of Solemn Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer."
In May of 1798, Napoleon departed for Ottoman Egypt.
He took Alexandria, Cairo and won the Battle of the Pyramids.
His archeologists discovered the Rosetta Stone, which unlocked Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Napoleon's fleet was defeated by British Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of the Nile.
He had to put down a revolt in Cairo, and failed to take Acre in the Holy Land.
By the end of August 1798, Napoleon left Egypt, leaving his army in charge, and returned to Paris.
The government in France was called the "Directory." It became increasing ineffective and unstable.
Napoleon staged a coup d'état, on November 9, 1799 and seized power, being installed as First Consul.
Needing funds, and concerned that the 12 year-long slave rebellion on the French sugar island of Saint-Domingue (Haiti), in which 75,000 French died, might spread to the France's Louisiana Territory, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Purchase to the United States in 1803.
After winning the Battle of Marengo, Napoleon had himself made Emperor in 1804.
At his coronation, he placed the crown on his own head, which was a public insult to the Pope who present, as previously the Pope crowned the Holy Roman Emperors.
Napoleon then crowned his wife, Josephine, proclaiming her as empress.
After the Battle of Austerlitz, December 2, 1805, Napoleon dissolved the thousand-year-old Holy Roman Empire.
In 1805, Napoleon suffered a set-back when his combined Franco-Spanish fleet was defeated at the Battle of Trafalgar by British Admiral Horatio Nelson.
In 1806, Napoleon made an alliance with the Ottoman Sultan Selim III.
In 1807 he made an alliance with the Persian Shah Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar.
Neither alliance had lasting effect.
In 1808, Napoleon put his brother Joseph on the throne of Spain, which led to revolts in Spain - the Peninsular War, and also revolts throughout New Spain -- Central and South America.
Soon, Simón Bolívar led a war of independence which eventually created the states of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama.
In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo gave his famous "Cry of the Dolores" sermon, which began the eleven year War of Mexican Independence from Spain.
Napoleon conquered across Europe and invaded Russia in June of 1812 with 500,000 men.
Six month later he retreated with only 50,000.
The Napoleonic Wars resulted in an estimated 6 million military and civilians deaths across Europe.
Napoleon's power waned till, in 1814, he was exiled to the Island of Elba.
Britain was now considered the most powerful nation in the world.
Napoleon had made an observation:
"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes.
Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain."
Jefferson opposed the Bank of the United States, describing it "as a machine for the corruption of the legislature."
He wrote to John Taylor in May 26, 1816:
"Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."
British Prime Minister William Pitt had stated:
"Let the American people go into their debt-funding schemes and banking systems, and from that hour their boasted independence will be a mere phantom."
In 1811, President James Madison refused to recharter the Bank of the United States.
British financiers reportedly owned two-thirds of the Bank's stock.
Immediately after this, Britain began intercepting American ships headed to French ports, seizing goods and impressing thousands of American sailors into the British navy.
Tensions with the United States and Britain escalated.
On June 18, 1812, the War of 1812 began.
James Madison wrote, September 20, 1814:
"The capture of nearly a thousand American vessels and the impressment of thousands of American seafaring citizens ... by the Government of Great Britain ...
... Our beloved country ... persevering hostility ... must carry with it the good wishes of the impartial world and the best hopes of support from an Omnipotent and Kind Providence."
The British backed Indian terrorists attacks on American settlements by supporting Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
James Madison told Congress, March 9, 1812:
"The British Government, through ... a secret agent ... was employed ... fomenting disaffection ... and in intrigues with the disaffected, for the purpose of ... destroying the Union ...
The discovery of such a procedure ... will not fail to render more dear to the hearts of all good citizens that happy union of these States which, under Divine Providence, is the guaranty of their liberties."
The Great Comet of 1811 was visible for 260 days, and a 7.4 New Madrid Earthquake made the Mississippi River temporarily flow backwards.
These occurrences were used by Shawnee Chief Tecumseh to form a confederation of Indian tribes across a thousand mile frontier.
Incited by Tecumseh, and armed by British, the Red Stick Creek Indians attacked Fort Mims, Alabama, on August 30, 1813.
Driven by rumors the British were paying cash for scalps, the Red Sticks killed over 500 men, women and children in the largest Indian massacre in American history.
Outraged Americans volunteered, including Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Thomas Hart Benton, and Daniel Boone, though Boone was turned down, being age 78.
In a Proclamation of War, June 19, 1812, President James Madison stated:
"I do moreover exhort all the good people of the United States ... as they feel the wrongs which have forced on them the last resort of injured nations ... to consult the best means under the blessing of Divine Providence of abridging its calamities."
On June 1, 1812, Madison told Congress:
"We behold ... on the side of Great Britain a state of war ...
Whether the United States shall continue passive under these progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs ... shall commit a just cause into the hands of the Almighty Disposer of Events."
The British had captured Maine's cities of Eastport, Castine, Hampden, Bangor and Machias.
A Second Great Awakening Revival swept America.
President Madison, who had introduced the First Amendment in the First Session of Congress, proclaimed a Day of Public Humiliation and Prayer, July 9, 1812:
"A day, to be set apart for the devout purpose of rendering the Sovereign of the Universe and the Benefactor of mankind the public homage due to His holy attributes;
of acknowledging the transgressions which might justly provoke the manifestations of His divine displeasure; of seeking His merciful forgiveness, and His assistance in the great duties of repentance ...
and especially of offering fervent supplications that in the present season of calamity and war He would take the American people under His peculiar care and protection."
Madison stated, November 4, 1812:
"The war in which we are actually engaged in ... was preceded by a patience without example under wrongs accumulating without end ...
Appeal was accordingly made ... to the Just and All-powerful Being who holds in His hand the chain of events and the destiny of nations ...
We prosecute the war with united counsels ... until peace be so obtained ... under the Divine blessing."
On February 24, 1813, Madison told Congress:
"Great Britain had already introduced into her commerce during the war ... a mass of forgery and perjury ... making an unfortunate progress in undermining those principles of morality and religion which are the best foundation of national happiness ...
The general tendency of these demoralizing and disorganizing contrivances will be reprobated by the civilized and Christian world."
On March 4, 1813, President Madison stated:
"I should be compelled to shrink if I ... felt less deeply a conviction that the war with a powerful nation ... is stamped with that justice which invites the smiles of Heaven on the means of conducting it to a successful termination."
On May 25, 1813, in a Special Session Message to Congress, Madison stated:
"The contest in which the United States are engaged appeals ... to the sacred obligation of transmitting entire to future generations that precious ... independence which is held in trust by the present from the goodness of Divine Providence."
On July 23, 1813, Madison proclaimed a National Day of Public Humiliation and Prayer:
"In times of public calamity such as that of the war ... it is especially becoming that the hearts of all should be ... turned to that Almighty Power in whose hands are the welfare and the destiny of nations ...
for ... He has blessed the United States with a political Constitution founded on the will and authority of the whole people
and guaranteeing to each individual security, not only of his person and his property, but of those sacred rights of conscience so essential to his present happiness and so dear to his future hopes ...
... that He would pardon our manifold transgressions and awaken and strengthen in all the wholesome purposes of repentance ... so He would ... bestow His blessings on our arms in resisting the hostile ...
If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy of the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed, it must be that in which those who join in it are guided only by their free choice, by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences ... that religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man, freed from all coercive edicts ...
and making no appeal but to reason, to the heart, and to the conscience, can spread its benign influence everywhere and can attract to the divine altar those freewill offerings of humble supplication."
The British attacked on Lake Eire.
On December 7, 1813, Madison stated:
"It has pleased the Almighty to bless our arms both on the land and on the water ...
On Lake Erie, the squadron under the command of Captain Perry having met the British squadron of superior force, a sanguinary conflict ended in the capture of the whole ...
We may humbly repose our trust in the smiles of Heaven on so righteous a cause."
The British invaded the U.S. Capitol on August 25, 1814.
Fires were set and flames engulfed:
the White House,
the Department of War building,
the Library of Congress,
the Supreme Court, and
the Navy Yard.
The Patent Office office was the only Government building untouched.
President James Madison was directing troops and Dolley Madison had to flee the White House.
On September 1, 1814, in a Proclamation after the British invaded the Capitol, Madison stated:
"The enemy by a sudden incursion has succeeded in invading the capitol of the nation ...
During their possession ... though for a single day only, they wantonly destroyed the public edifices ...
An occasion which appeals so forcibly to the ... patriotic devotion of the American people, none will forget.
The glory acquired by ... fathers in establishing the independence ... is now to be maintained by their sons with the ... strength and resources ... Heaven had blessed them."
A few weeks later, on September 13, 1814, the British bombarded Fort McHenry, as Francis Scott Key wrote of "bombs bursting in air."
On November 16, 1814, Madison proclaimed a National Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer:
"The two Houses of the National Legislature having by a joint resolution expressed their desire that in the present time of public calamity and war a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States as a Day of Public Humiliation and Fasting and of Prayer to Almighty God
for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace ...
I have deemed it proper ... to recommend ... a day of ... voluntarily offering ... humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance."
The British attacked New Orleans, but were defeated by General Andrew Jackson.
When the war ended, President James Madison addressed Congress, February 18, 1815:
"I lay before Congress copies of the treaty of peace ... between the United States and His Britannic Majesty ...
We accord in grateful acknowledgments for the protection which Providence has bestowed upon us."
On March 4, 1815, President Madison proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving:
"To be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.
No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States ...
To the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land ... especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace."
Napoleon escaped from the Island of Elba and returned to power in Paris on March 20, 1815.
For the next one hundred days, Napoleon amassed an army of 280,000, while all of Europe was in fear.
Britain had to finally give up aspirations in America as it joined with Austria, Prussia (Germany), and Russia to focus attention on assembling a combined military force of 800,000 to stop Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, March 20 – July 8, 1815.
Image Credits: Public Domain; The Battle of Waterloo; Artist: William Sadler (1782–1839); Date: June 1815; Object history: Pyms Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Anne Crookshank, The Knight of Glin, William Laffan: Masterpieces by Irish Artists (1660-1860); https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Waterloo_1815.PNG