Who was a better leader? Napoleon or Stalin?

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The people or the materials? The power or morals? Which would you choose to do for the good of mankind if you were a leader? All leaders young and old, inexperienced and experienced have that choice to make. Throughout history there has been many examples of leaders who have been supporters for the people, supporters for materials, power hungry, and moral awareness. Often, people use these points to compare rulers and say that one ruler is better than the other. Two rulers, Napoleon Bonaparte of France and Joseph Stalin of Russia, have both been rulers who had to make many decision in those areas. Based on the points listed above, I have come to a conclusion of which one of the two is a better leader. In looking at how each treated the civilians, how they seized power, and what they accomplished, Napoleon was a better leader than Stalin.

The first reason why Napoleon was a better ruler was because how he treated his civilians. Napoleon helped the people of France in many ways. He had conquered so many different lands that he earned the respect from the French people. After that, Napoleon invaded Egypt because of its relation with Britain trade. He was left stranded in Egypt along with his troops due to the destruction on his ships by the British fleet, but quickly invaded the Ottoman Empire, then backtracked to Egypt again to fight off more Ottomans that tried to take over Egypt. Long after that, when he seized political power, Napoleon divided France into regions called departments, having prefects to rule those certain parts (card 1, source 1). He did this to centralize the French government. Napoleon only fought against the civilians in order to defend the nation’s government (grapeshot), but otherwise helped the people(card 2, source 1). In short, Napoleon had helped the people through a better government and increase in land. Stalin, on the other hand, was more of a dictator that led people through fear. Under the czars, the Russian secret police often sent revolutionists to exile without any trial. Stalin’s version of this was far worse because he instead sent millions to either be executed or sent to labor camps(card 3 source 2). Stalin also gave up many industries to the secret police, that way the police could make the prisoners work for them(card 4 source 2). Stalin also used fear by making neighbors to spy on each other and urged children to snitch on their parents to the police(card 4 source 2). In short, Staling had hurt the people by leading them through fear and failed to increase the landmass.

The second reason why Napoleon was a better ruler was because how seized power. Napoleon started out by becoming a second lieutenant of artillery in the French Army. In a defensive navy battle, Napoleon was able to have the British fleet retreat, and was named brigadier general at the age of 24(card 5 source 1). After defending the monarchy palace against an angry mob, Napoleon was hailed hero and major general(card 7 source 1). Napoleon was able to develop his own military strategy, and defeated many armies larger than his own. By this, Napoleon was able to get support from the people and made political alliances and was able to seize control of the government. Soon, Napoleon became first consul. Due to his overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendment, that made him consul for life, by the French people, he was able to gain more power. Because of his help, the people and the French Senate voted him to be their emperor. In short, Napoleon gained power by doing good things for France. Stalin used his cunningness to gain power. Staling wanted power and got it at a cost of Russian lives. It really wasn’t a cost for him, but more for Russia. Stalin was one of the two associates of Lenin; the other named Trotsky(card 6 source 2). Lenin was the head of the new government after the revolution and gave Stalin the position of commissar of nationalities. Over time, Lenin became disturbed by Stalin’s ever growing power. Therefore, before a series of strokes that prevented Lenin from working, he had secretly written letters addressing that Stalin must be removed as general secretary because Stalin had abused his powers(card 6 course 2). Lenin, however, was too ill to remove Stalin. Stalin cleverly used his powers to destroy rivals, including Trotsky(card 6 source 2). After waiting quietly for the officers to destroy themselves, Stalin rose to power with the support of the leading Bolshevik party. Napoleon ascended through earning it and doing good, whereas Staling rose to power by using foul play and destroying rivals secretly.

The third reason why Napoleon was a better ruler than Stalin is based on his accomplishments. First, he had greatly improved the law code, which lead him to the Napoleonic Code. This code is the basis for the French Civil Law. Napoleon also increased religious tolerance and the abolition of serfdom. He was also seeking peace with other nations at this time(card 9 source 1). After surprising and defeating the Austrians, Napoleon had them sign the Treat of Luneville(card 8 source 1). With the Austrians defeated, the British also gave in and signed for peace in the Treaty of Amiens. Russia also dropped out of the war on France. Later on, Napoleon sold the Louisiana territory to raise money for war; he had a feeling that war was to break out with the United Kingdoms once again. With all these war victories, Napoleon had granted France a huge sum of land as well as wealth to help out the economy. Stalin, however, took a different course of action. He decided to focus on materials and industrialize further. Stalin constructed the five-year-plan, a plan that was to increase economic development. This plan also focused on impossible manufacturing rates, materialistic things such as metals, to the extent of factory owners to lie about production rates. Stalin also collectivized the Soviet agriculture, ending private farming and moved the farms, equipment, and livestock to government hands(card 10 source 2). Many farmers retaliated, destroying a lot of the produce(card 11 source 3). As punishment he sent them to exile. The economy moved forward, but at a price: millions of lives. Napoleon’s courses of actions were more positive than Stalin’s. By this I mean Napoleon knew that a nation needed a society of satisfied people, but Stalin believed that a nation needed materials more than the well being of lives.

Someone may argue that Napoleon was a cheat near the end of his ruler and did anything, even cheating, to win. I was respond to this by saying that Napoleon was also an incredible leader that had done many good things in his earlier years(card 12 source 4). Stalin, however, was basically another Hitler that was willing to kill millions upon millions in sacrifice for his ideas during his ENTIRE reign, in which Stalin did.

In looking at how each treated the civilians, how they seized power, and what they accomplish, I think Napoleon was a better leader then Stalin. Knowing what sort of leadership is moral and effective is very important for future rulers. In order to have a productive nation, there must be a leader that would look upon the past, and learn from that, and not make the same mistakes as the other rulers had. For example, based on Napoleon, rulers afterwards come to note that invading Russia by land would not be a wise move to do (card 13 source 5). With history, the future will learn from the old, and do better. They would also know what type of leader will succeed and what type fails. Napoleon as a leader should be look upon as a leader of accomplishment and morals, of cleverness and cunning, and of success.


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