Be a part of Bonaparte

July 14, 2009 4:23:27 AM PDT
The story of our country isn't the only heroic tale going on in Philadelphia.

The National Constitution Center has an exhibit on a man who knew some of the founding founders and influenced their thinking.

Walk through the main lobby of the National Constitution Center and a bright red wall beckons you to enter the world of Napoleon.

For someone who never visited here, he had a profound impact on America's founders. French collector PierreJean Chalencon owns more than a thousand Napoleon artifacts and brought about a third of them here for the summer.

His fascination with his hero started early.

"I was 8 years old," PierreJean Chalencon told Action News. "It was like Superman."

Most Americans remember Napoleon as a military leader. He was, but he was more.

It's remarkable that he reached the height of political power at age 33.

The exhibit lets you see Napoleon's taste. He appreciated art in all its forms, and fine dining, too. He also wrote a code of laws which influenced the world of his day, and our founders.

He wrote a code of laws still largely in use in France and elsewhere. He knew some of our founders and his writings influenced the U.S. Constitution, which was in the works at the height of his power.

Napoleon never got to North America but two of his brothers did. Joseph and Jerome Bonaparte both called Philadelphia home at one time. Joseph also owned a mansion in Bordentown, New Jersey. Jerome also lived in Baltimore.

Napoleon did have a major role in shaping the United States, because he sold us the Louisiana Territory in 1803. He thought it would be better to make a profit on the land than, perhaps, to defend it against American forces one day.

For more on this temporary exhibit, visit this page on the Center's website,

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