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The Jacobin years

Over the phone, Green continues listing off the names of people who have credited Hill as a great influence on their success. I futilely ask again to see the manuscript. I tell Mr. Green follows through on his promise, even offering to send me a copy of one book. I ask yet again, this time over email bloggers sure are persistent jerks , for access to the Napoleon Hill archives. His reply, as I would come to learn, would perfectly capture the business strategy and legacy of Napoleon Hill more than any single book ever could.

Green up on his offer. Even if you ignore the fact that he was a serial swindler. Hill tried his hand at a number of businesses with varying degrees of legitimacy. He was an executive at a lumber company, he was part owner of a candy company, and he made a go of it as a magazine publisher. But at every turn, there was some kind of shady dealing that would cause his business ventures to crumble. According to his biographers, Michael J. Ritt Jr. His business associates would take advantage of him by stealing tremendous amounts of money and later pointing the finger at Hill as the thief.

11 Leadership Lessons From Napoleon | Cleverism

Modern followers of the Hill myth repeat the tales of his many misfortunes as the work of devious people conspiring against their hero. But when you dig a bit deeper—merely inches below the surface—you start to find that the Napoleon Hill story is far more fiction than fact. There are only so many times that a man can be arrested for the sale of unlicensed stock, altering checks, and outright theft, before you have to question the official history.

Hill paved the way for business and spiritual gurus like Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra. But ultimately Hill used his ambition and belief in that ideal to build a legacy based largely on lies and deceit. Napoleon Hill was a deeply troubled soul, suffering bouts of depression and loneliness as he struggled to become a financial success. Constantly on the move, he believed that success came through confidence and visualization. But behind every upbeat quote and promise of future riches, Hill had a darkness that could not be contained.

With every breath he uttered there was a kind of intellectual and spiritual impotence underneath; a cacophony of buzzwords echoing through the skyscrapers of Chicago and the airwaves of Hollywood. And it was his words that would both render him a prophet, and destroy the lives of those closest to him. Oliver Napoleon Hill was born in , the son of James Hill, an unlicensed dentist and occasional moonshiner, and his mother Sara. She even bought him a typewriter in So Napoleon started writing for a small weekly newsletter whose stories were sometimes picked up by small newspapers in Virginia.

As his biographers explain:. Napoleon soon became a prolific source of stories. His writing was unpolished, if not crude, but he compensated with unbounded verve and a vivid imagination. This knack for storytelling, and outright deceit, would come to define the life of Napoleon Hill—a young man who would embrace fakery as he strived to make his way in life through the sale of dreams.

Proven, that is, by anyone but Napoleon Hill. Officially, Napoleon Hill supporters are probably aware of two or three of his marriages. In fact, he was married at least five times. This would perhaps not be worth mentioning except for the circumstances surrounding his first two marriages—the two that are largely missing from the official stories of Hill. By the age of seventeen, young Nap had graduated high school and set off for Tazewell, Virginia to attend a business school.

Hill then went to work in for Rufus Ayres—coal magnate, businessman, and the former Attorney General of Virginia. But they all start to sound like a man loudly proclaiming his ethical fortitude just a little too strongly. One anecdote includes a bizarre incident in which the cashier of a bank owned by Ayres went on a bender one weekend. In a drunken haze at some nearby hotel the cashier supposedly dropped a gun, which discharged and killed a black bellboy.

Hill goes further to claim that he went to check on the bank at which the cashier worked. The cashier had inexplicably left everything unlocked over the weekend, including the vault. Hill wired Ayres to let him know all that had happened, but curiously, despite all the scattered money, there was no evidence that anything had been stolen.

At least according to Hill. At least according to him. The official biography of Napoleon Hill more or less skips over the period covering until Hill, from Big Stone Gap, Va. On March 23, a baby girl was born, Edith Whitman Hill—named after her mother. By June of Napoleon had moved himself to Mobile, Alabama and was getting involved in the lumber business. But Napoleon had plenty of extra-curricular activities.

It turns out that throughout his marriage to Edith, Napoleon was visiting a number of prostitutes in cities throughout the South. Oliver N. Hill, within a few minutes after arriving there, took one of the girls to a room in the same house, and stayed with her until about 12 o-clock that night. Both of the women who stayed at this house were of easy virtue and Mr. Hill went there for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with these women.

He admitted to me that night when were [sic] going to the hotel that he had had sexual intercourse with the girl that he took to the room. You can only communicate with me through my father, and not unless he thinks best. As far as I can tell, Hill never showed up to court to contest the divorce, but that may have been the least of his worries in Napoleon Hill was arrested in May for altering checks, though he was later acquitted of that charge.

The more public fraud was his lumber business, the Acree-Hill Lumber Company. He had been selling off the lumber as quickly as he could in Alabama, accepting only cash, and virtually any amount that he was offered. This, of course, raised plenty of suspicions from the buyers, not to mention the lumber sellers in Alabama who were being undercut at obscenely low prices.

Hill was telling his business partner, J. Acree, that he had found new investors in the business, thus the extra mountains of cash that seemed to be pouring in were simply a product of good business connections. But by June, Mr. By the second half of , word quickly spread that Hill was committing fraud, and every businessman in the lumber community was looking for him. In September of Hill went on the run from his office in Mobile, Alabama.

The whereabouts of O. Hill, said to be the president and general manager of the Acree-Hill Lumber Company, is causing considerable anxiety among creditors of the concern in the state and several other lumber section. Hill has not been at his office since September 8. Hill left the city almost a month ago, at which time he gave it out to his stenographer that he was going to visit a few mills, and since that time she has not heard from him.

All we know for certain is that by December Hill had fled to Washington, D. This is when Oliver N. Hill would start introducing himself by his middle name, Napoleon. According to the official legend of Napoleon Hill, was a pivotal year in the best way possible. According to Hill, Carnegie would later introduce him to the most powerful businessmen in the country for interviews about what made them so successful.

It would be a year mission, Carnegie supposedly explained to Hill. In fact, Hill would claim that Carnegie invited him to stay for an entire weekend to learn at the feet of Carnegie and start Napoleon on his journey. But, of course, none of it was true. Between the domestic disputes, divorce, and fraudulent business deals in lumber, Hill spent much of simply trying to evade the authorities.

As just one random example from page 97 in my copy:.

Napoleon At Work

HILL: Will you tell me, in the simplest words possible, just how one may control this wheel of fortune? I would like a description of this important success factor which the young man or young woman just beginning a business career may understand. I have already named five of these principles, and I might here suggest that these five, if properly applied, will carry one a long way on the road toward success in any calling.

Imagine for a moment Andrew Carnegie, or any industrialist of the early 20th century, talking like that.

Never shot: Kubrick's 'Napoleon'

Seventeen principles of achievement? Carnegie was not known to be in that business, though his distant cousin Dale would certainly get into it with his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. In reality, was an incredibly tense time for Hill. In December of , he was recently divorced and hiding from a number of people to whom he owed money. Hill took out ads in the newspapers surrounding Washington explaining that with just six weeks of training anybody could become an expert in assembling cars in the burgeoning automobile market. Hill had set up the Automobile College of Washington with himself as president, R.

Napoleon's Bloodless Coup - History

Blakesley as vice president, and L. Murphy as secretary and treasurer. Napoleon Hill, president of the Automobile College of Washington, has bought out the other members of that corporation and will manage the school himself. Hill states that from the present outlook the season of will far surpass previous ones. It was in D. Curiously, three men of the Automobile College were married all within a week of each other in June of —and none of them told their friends or business associates that they were doing it.

He drove the car around to the home of Miss Horner, who graduated from Central High School last Wednesday and is a niece of former Gov. Atkinson, of West Virginia. Ten minutes later the machine was whirring along the level highway that leads to Marlboro. The ceremony was performed there quietly, and that same evening the car stole back to Washington, carrying Mr. They will be at home to their friends at the Earlington apartments, Mount Pleasant, in about a week.

Hill and Miss Horner met three months ago while the pretty high school girl was still working for her diploma in the class rooms at Central. But something was amiss. While Hill was honeymooning, his various business partners and suppliers were jumping ship. Hunt had dissolved their business partnership in the Mount Vernon Inn.

Who Was Napoleon?

Warnick, was alleging that Hill had stolen a car a crime for which Hill was arrested and wanted the National Automobile College to be put into receivership. His college would no longer put an emphasis on teaching students to build cars. Sound familiar? Multi-level marketing companies use similar tactics. The baby was born deaf and without ears but despite his handicap, the elder Napoleon was determined to see his son succeed.

Even if this meant denying him the ability to communicate like other children born without the ability to hear. In the years to come, despite intense fighting with both family and schoolteachers, Napoleon would never allow the boy to learn sign language. He was determined to singlehandedly teach his deaf son to speak—and even to hear.

Curiously, one of his partners, Ernest M. But whatever their former relationship, the candy company partners quickly pushed Hill out for some unknown transgression. Hill filed suit against his former partners, and claimed to have won a victory in some Chicago court five years later. Following his brief dabbling in the candy business, Hill clearly believed that the way to riches was in establishing schools. But even in the increasingly litigious culture of the early 21st century, a lawsuit about poor lighting on public transit would probably be considered frivolous.

It seems Hill was trying to make a buck literally any way he could. He was charged with violating the Illinois Blue Sky Law. But it was just Hill, ostensibly offering student loans at 5 percent interest, of course to pay himself. When the warrants were issued on June 4th, Hill promised to turn himself in. Napoleon was occasionally visiting his family in West Virginia during the lead up to his arrest enough to get Florence pregnant with their third child David, born on October 26, but he spent most of his time during this period in Chicago, New York, and allegedly back to Washington D.

Instead of reporting the facts surrounding his administration of a fraudulent college, the official story of Napoleon Hill tells a different tale about his time from on the tail end of World War I. Many years later Hill would claim that he was approached by President Woodrow Wilson for help with the war effort. He just wanted him involved. Nearly broke, Hill turned down a salary from the President of the United States in order to serve his country for free.

That job? Producing propaganda materials for US businesses to encourage Americans who were toiling away making the machines of war. But the story gets even better. When he finished reading he handed the documents to me and left the room. He was gone for about fifteen minutes. When he returned, he handed me a couple of sheets of paper on which he had written his reply to the Germans, which ended with three questions related to the terms of the armistice. President, I would suggest a fourth question.

I would ask whether the request for an armistice has been made on behalf of the German people or the German war lords. The volume even includes entire articles. That was armistice day, as everyone knows. Like most other people, I became as drunk with enthusiasm and joy that day as any man ever did on wine.

I was practically penniless, but I was happy to know that the slaughter was over and reason about about to spread its beneficent wings over the earth once more.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Hill got mixed up with a man named S. Cox and his wife N. Cox from Houston. The Cox couple owned the General Oil Company and were looking for investors. Even if they had to lie to get them. Hill helped the Cox couple spread news about just how well their company was doing.

The Federal Trade Commission charged Hill on October with using his magazine for fraudulent advertising. Hill started numerous magazines and tabloids over the years, with nearly every article exclusively written by Hill under various pseudonyms. In Houston, Hill helped the Cox couple start a magazine ironically called Truth. Throughout his career, Napoleon Hill preached the gospel of the Golden Rule. But at other times he showed his cards a bit more. The Golden Rule is a powerful weapon in business, because there is so little competition in its application.

It was a weapon. Hill learned early on that an easy and cost-effective way to get your name in the press was to present people with awards for their demonstration of the Golden Rule. In May of he awarded a chiropractor by the name of Dr. Who came in second? Woodrow Wilson. The idea of it all was absurd on its face. But it gained Hill national coverage in newspapers and magazines around the country. But his award-giving tactic would later let him gain access to some of the famous people he so dearly wanted to meet. Teed to start the Intra-Wall Correspondence School in The charity would provide educational materials for prisoners in Ohio so that they could lead productive lives once they left prison.

Hill petitioned for the release of Butler R. Storke, an inmate who was serving two years for check forging—a similar crime for which Hill himself had been arrested and acquitted in One of the most scandalous newspaper articles on Hill comes from late In it, the author lays out all the people trying to track him down for one reason or another—most often for unpaid debts.

Hill was traveling from city to city in the early s on his mission to collect donations for his Intra-Wall Correspondence School. His constant movement around the country was not necessarily out of wanderlust, of course, but rather to stay one step ahead of the law. But whatever the exact number, it was a lot of money. Thomas, told the local newspaper that they never saw a dime. And neither had the prison chaplain who helped Hill start the Intra-Wall Correspondence school in the first place. Storke, the check forger released to help start the school was sent back to prison.

Storke changed his name on various occasions throughout the s, and would spend the next two decades in and out of prison for embezzlement and other sordid business deals. Napoleon Hill claimed to have learned the secrets of success through interviews with hundreds of incredible celebrities and businessmen.

What we do have, however, is this picture:. This photo of Napoleon Hill standing awkwardly with Thomas Edison is the only photo of Hill with any of the famous businessmen let alone Presidents he claimed to have interviewed over the course of his decades-long career in studying the secrets of success. Hill figured on how he could have a picture made with Thomas A. Edison, so he could give him a medal. Hill, one of the leading magazine writers, wished to attend the Edison Convention of Dealers. He asked Mr. Edison to pose with him, a request he could hardly refuse. Edison left and Napoleon Hill.

Edison is the inventor of the talking machine, the electric light, the moving picture and scores of other things that serve mankind. Edison was born of poor parents and began his career as a news butcher on a train. Hill began as a laborer in the coal mines.

Both have risen to fame through their own efforts. During that brief meeting Hill gave Edison his medal. Edison returned the medal without comment. According to the official biography of Hill, he returns to Chicago at some point in the mids to find that the items he had in storage were in a building that had burned to the ground. Gone were dozens of letters and notes from Woodrow Wilson, including his approval of a Hill proposal that the president used to sell war bonds. Gone were the autographed pictures of Wilson, [Alexander Graham] Bell, and others. Gone was the series of letters from Manuel L.

Quezon, who corresponded with Hill prior to becoming president of the Philippine Commonwealth. Well, there you have it. They all burned up in a fire. In the mids Hill bounces around Ohio and Indiana, ready to start anew yet again. But the Midwest of the s was a dark and seedy place for a number of reasons. Today, we romanticize the gangster era of Chicago in the s and 30s. But as in Chicago, the big cities and small towns of Ohio and Indiana could be dangerous places in the s. Unlike the movies, very real blood was being spilled over political power struggles, illegal booze, and virulent racism.

And Napoleon Hill would get caught up in the middle of it all as he toured Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, making friends and enemies with journalists, politicians, and the Ku Klux Klan. But the Klan had a surprisingly strong presence in northern states as well, like Oregon, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

Donald Mellett was a respected newspaper publisher in Canton, Ohio in He reported on both mob and police corruption in the Canton Daily News and courted controversy through his muckraking. Mellett came from a family of journalists and struggled for years at tiny newspapers in his home state of Indiana and then Ohio.

When he was brought on as editor of the Canton Daily News , the paper initially gained readers through an emphasis on subscription sales over street sales—a long-term, unconventional model for the newspaper industry at the time. Not a huge city by any means, Canton was simply one of many cities across the US that was experiencing an explosion in organized crime.

And it counted amongst its ranks plenty of police officers who were being paid to look the other way—whether it was booze, sex, or sometimes murder. Mellett had been editor of the Canton Daily News merely a year before he was murdered. He was gunned down outside his own garage on July 16, —assassinated by either underworld figures, corrupt police, or most likely a conspiracy involving a mixture of the two.

There was immediate outrage in the journalism community. One of their own had been assassinated, making it a national story for months. Hill later claimed that Mellett also wanted to help Hill publish an eight-volume book on the subject of success and how to achieve it. But that story contradicts itself even in his own biography, because by all accounts he spent the next few months trying to get a lecture tour started in the Midwest. In the August 27, issue of the Courier-Crescent in Orrville, Ohio just 25 miles outside Canton Hill is noted as giving public lectures and touting his association with the slain newspaperman.

Even people who disagreed with Mellett on any number of issues including perhaps most fervently his advocacy of alcohol prohibition , saw his murder as a direct assault on the First Amendment. To get at the source of the criminal operations and the inefficiency in the police department, he found that the civil service commission must be removed. Immediately a conspiracy against Mellett was organized in the police department, which derives its authority from the civil service commission. And he was probably right.

He even had the Canton Police Chief, S.

Napoleon’s Education and Early Military Career

Lengel, ousted by the Democratic mayor before the Republican-controlled city council reinstated him. By October of Hill was still roaming around Ohio and Indiana. He appears in court in Indianapolis testifying about political corruption in Indiana, but it had nothing to do with Mellett.

Efforts were made also to find Harvey Bedford and George Elliott, both of whom formerly were active in the Klan here. Napoleon Hill, a lecturer who was said to have a contract with Bedford and Elliott was in the grand jury room during the afternoon. Judging from the newspaper records of the time, this appears to be true. But who he was hiding from is still unclear. Had he pissed off the Klan? Mobsters of Ohio who were bootlegging and allegedly selling drugs to children? Was it the police or politicians after him? All of this is still a mystery as far as I can tell.

Sometime in late or early , Hill emerged from hiding, ready to embark on yet another publishing venture. Hill moved to Philadelphia and his alleged plans with Mellett would not go to waste. Hill would see his eight-volume work, now titled Law of Success , published one way or another. Pelton was a true believer in the prosperity self-help movement.

In , while Napoleon was at the academy, his father died of stomach cancer. This propelled Napoleon to take the reins as the head of the family. Graduating early from the military academy, Napoleon, now second lieutenant of artillery, returned to Corsica in Back home, Napoleon got behind the Corsican resistance to the French occupation, siding with his father's former ally, Pasquale Paoli. But the two soon had a falling out, and when a civil war in Corsica began in April , Napoleon, now an enemy of Paoli, and his family relocated to France, where they assumed the French version of their name: Bonaparte.

Napoleon stood about 5 feet and 7 inches tall, making him slightly taller than the average Frenchman of his time. Much has been made of Napoleon's height, and legends claim that he was unusually short, giving rise to the term "Napoleon complex," an inferiority complex sometimes associated with people of short stature.

The turmoil of the French Revolution created opportunities for ambitious military leaders like Napoleon. The young leader quickly showed his support for the Jacobins, a far-left political movement and the most well-known and popular political club from the French Revolution.

Ultimately, these acts led to the rise of Maximilien de Robespierre and what became, essentially, the dictatorship of the Committee of Public Safety. The years of and came to be known as the Reign of Terror , in which many as 40, people were killed. Eventually the Jacobins fell from power and Robespierre was executed. After falling out of favor with Robespierre, Napoleon came into the good graces of the Directory in after he saved the government from counter-revolutionary forces.

For his efforts, Napoleon was soon named commander of the Army of the Interior. In addition, he was a trusted advisor to the Directory on military matters. In , Napoleon took the helm of the Army of Italy, a post he'd been coveting. The army, just 30, strong, disgruntled and underfed, was soon turned around by the young military commander. Under his direction, the reinvigorated army won numerous crucial victories against the Austrians, greatly expanded the French empire and squashed an internal threat by the royalists, who wished to return France to a monarchy.

All of these successes helped make Napoleon the military's brightest star. Napoleon's image - and that of France - were greatly harmed by the loss, and in a show of newfound confidence against the commander, Britain, Austria, Russia and Turkey formed a new coalition against France. In the spring of , French armies were defeated in Italy, forcing France to give up much of the peninsula. In October, Napoleon returned to France, where he was welcomed as a popular military leader.

Additionally, with the Treaty of Amiens in , the war-weary British agreed to peace with the French although the peace would only last for a year. Napoleon then returned to war with Britain, Russia and Austria. In , the British registered an important naval victory against France at the Battle of Trafalgar , which led Napoleon to scrap his plans to invade England. Instead, he set his sights on Austria and Russia, and beat back both militaries in the Battle of Austerlitz.

Other victories soon followed, allowing Napoleon to greatly expand the French empire and paving the way for loyalists to his government to be installed in Holland, Italy, Naples, Sweden, Spain and Westphalia. The Napoleonic Code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and stated that government jobs must be given to the most qualified. The Napoleonic Code followed Napoleon's new constitution, which created the first consul — a position which amounted to nothing less than a dictatorship.

Working with one of the new directors, Emmanuel Sieyes, Napoleon hatched plans for a second coup that would place the pair along with Pierre-Roger Ducos atop a new government called the Consulate. With the new guidelines, the first consul was permitted to appoint ministers, generals, civil servants, magistrates and even members of the legislative assemblies. Napoleon would, of course, be the one who would fulfill the first consul's duties. In February , the new constitution was easily accepted.

He also negotiated a European peace, which lasted just three years before the start of the Napoleonic Wars. His reforms proved popular: In he was elected consul for life, and two years later he was proclaimed emperor of France. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers in Napoleon's Grand Army were killed or badly wounded: Out of an original fighting force of some , men, just 10, soldiers were still fit for battle. News of the defeat reinvigorated Napoleon's enemies, both inside and outside of France. A failed coup was attempted while Napoleon led his charge against Russia, while the British began to advance through French territories.