In 1803, the brutal field execution of the patriot spies Meriwether Lewis and William Clark by British irregular forces operating outside of British Crown Territory forced open the explosive issue of revolutionary forces being harboured in French Louisiana.
How Napoleon lost one continent and gained anotherA British invasion had been expected at any moment since the outbreak of war ten years before. But it took the revolt in San Domingo to convince both sides that French America was indefensible. Quite simply Napoleon could not project sufficient force in order to retain the whole colony.
The situation presented both sides with a unique opportunity for a grand peace settlement that would leave Napoleon the master of continental Europe with French coffers filled at the expense of British bankers. However his brothers did not agree; during the infamous "bath scene" they accused him of impetuosity, insisting that he lacked the authority to make such a huge decision.
Napoleon, half rising from the bath, rejoined in a serious tone: "You will have no need to lead the opposition, for I repeat that there will be no debate, for the reason that the project which has not the fortune to meet your approval, conceived by me, negotiated by me, shall be ratified and executed by me alone, do you comprehend - by me, who laugh at your opposition!".