Why did Napoleon call Britain “a nation of shopkeepers”?

By Sunil Kumar

Like Hitler; Napoleon Bonaparte was a big enemy of the British; and believed that all of Europe should be under his control. The U.K has always had a geographic advantage of being an island.

Bonaparte was less successful than Hitler overall and had a slightly different life trajectory being imprisoned in an island then making his way back again to lead France. There was a time when he was achieving great success and conquering most of Europe. He thought it would be good to demoralize Britain and its preparedness for war by calling them a “nation of shopkeepers”.

However; some people attribute this to the famous economist Adam Smith who had this to say;

“To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight, appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers, but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers. “

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