Joseph Bonaparte - The island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean Sea, sixty miles from the coast of Tuscany, is about half as large as the State of Massachusetts. In the year 1767 this island was one of the provinces of Italy. There was then residing, in the small town of Corté, in Corsica, a young lawyer nineteen years of age. He was the descendant of an illustrious race, which could be traced back, through a succession of distinguished men, far into the dark ages. Charles Bonaparte, the young man of whom we speak, was tall, handsome, and possessed strong native powers of mind, which he had highly cultivated. In the same place there was a young lady, Letitia Raniolini, remarkable for her beauty and her accomplishments. She also was of an ancient family. When but sixteen years of age Letitia was married to Charles Bonaparte, then but nineteen years old.
About a year after their marriage, on the 7th of January, 1768, they welcomed their first-born child, Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte. In nineteen months after the birth of Joseph, his world-renowned brother Napoleon was born. But in the mean time the island had been transferred to France. Thus while Joseph was by birth an Italian, his brother Napoleon was a Frenchman.
Charles Bonaparte occupied high positions of trust and honor in the government of Corsica, and his family took rank with the most distinguished families in Italy and in France. Joseph passed the first twelve years of his life upon his native island. He was ever a boy of studious habits, and of singular amiability of character. When he was twelve years of age his father took him, with Napoleon and their elder sister Eliza, to France for their education. Leopold, the grand duke of Tuscany, gave Charles Bonaparte letters of introduction to Maria Antoinette, his sister, who was then the beautiful and admired Queen of France.