As the French Revolution unfolded and headed toward ever greater turmoil, Napoleon was quick to choose sides. He made the mistake of allying with the Jacobins, the bloody and socialistic instigators of the infamous Reign of Terror. “R.R. Palmer has observed that Napoleon considered the Jacobin government of Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety the only serious government of the Revolutionary period.” (Holmberg, 1)
Indeed, not even the widespread executions of 1793 and 1794 seemed to shake Napoleon’s allegiances. “During the ‘Reign of Terror’ Napoleon was strongly identified with the Jacobins. His dialogue published in 1793, ‘Le Souper de Beaucaire,’ championed the Jacobins over the federalist Girondins. What Napoleon admired were the Jacobins’ strong centralized government, their commitment to deal decisively with the problems facing the fledgling republic, and their attempt to forge a strong stable France while winning the war against its enemies.” (Holmberg, 1).
Of course, this idealistic young man was the prime candidate for the Republican government’s agenda to spread its new regime to one of its most distant outposts, Corsica. In 1790, Napoleon was sent to return there, accompanied by Joseph Bonaparte, in order to organize and supervise elections for local government officials.
However, the Republican ideals faced strong opposition from a hardcore group of former Corsican independence activists, led by his father’s ex-compatriot and Napoleon’s own role model, Pascuale Paoli, whose courage and military skill inspired the young Bonaparte and fueled his enthusiasm toward the fighting profession.
The old retired general was not receptive toward a system imposed from abroad, no matter how liberal it was, and this anger, backed by the masses in Corsica, nearly led to a military revolt. Instead, however, the people elected Paoli the Governor of Corsica, which still endangered Napoleon.
After several meetings and discussions, the young Bonaparte managed to make an enemy out of his hero, although it was none of his fault. Napoleon wrote Paoli letters of his most profound admiration, but the latter refused to even read them while approaching Napoleon with an external coldness and disdain. In reality, however, the irrational Paoli held a deep hatred for Napoleon as a result of the actions of Carlo far before 1769.
By October, 1792, the lives of the entire Bonaparte family were on the line. In time to avoid physical persecution by Paoli’s agents, Napoleon and his kin fled to Paris never again to return to their homeland.