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Louis the 17th was born a very saw on March 27 1785 the second son of Louis the Sixteenth Marie Antoinette about Ty's Louis Charlotte. He became the Dolphin in the death of his elder brother in 1789 when the monarchy was suspended during the French Revolution. He was imprisoned with the rest of the royal family in the temple of paradise. His father was beheaded on January 21st 1793 is mother was guillotined some three months later and he himself allegedly died in the temple two years after that. Although several persons bore witness to his death there was enough secrecy and plotting surrounding the last months of his life for rumors to arise that the dolphin was not dead but had somehow escaped him. The way it was presenting eyewitness accounts of historic events material for this series was drawn from the files and papers of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin today. The last
fan of Green Bay or William was a halfbreed Mohawk Indian born about 1798 on the shores of Lake George New York. Both of his parents were descendants of kidnap whites who had intermarried with their captors and the child was according to his mother's description raised as an ordinary papoose. Thanks to the efforts of a distant Massachusetts relative he was trained as a missionary. A gifted leader he envisaged a great Indian Empire west of Lake Michigan under his rule with an eye to that purpose. He accompanied a delegation of New York Indians to Green Bay Wisconsin yes tablet his home there and married the plan for an Indian Empire didn't work out and the Indians eventually repudiated his leadership. A few years later
Elliott or Williams began dropping hints that he was in reality the last fan. Louis the 17th of France as he was one day making his toilet. And while adjusting his clothes and admiring himself in the glass he challenge me to admire him. He challenged me to admire his fine looks especially his keen eye rosy cheeks and bright countenance. See said he is this the face of a savage. How much Indian blood is there we will see. Time whether the Indian or a white man prevails in this place in the month of August 1844
there Reverend any easier Williams visited Newport Rhode Island where I was sometime rector. He was the guest of Mrs. Perry. I mean the books that covered the center table in the parlor of this hospitable mansion were some volumes of French revolutionary history candles had been brought into the parlor and when Williams and I drew nigh to the table to amuse ourselves for the hour I was reading some author. All at once I was startled by a sudden movement and on looking up I saw Williams sitting upright and stiff in the chair his eyes fixed and wide open. His hand clenched on the table his whole frame shaken and trembling as if paralysis had seized him. I exclaimed what is the matter. And I quickly rose to rouse him for no answer came. It was a minute or two before he could speak
but with great effort he raised his hand and pointed to one of the would card portraits at the bottom of the page and said. That image has haunted me day and night as long as I can remember. Just the horrid vision of my dreams. What is it. Who is it. I looked. There was no name on the page. I'm turning the leaf. I read that this number was the portrait of Simon to whose care friends son of 16 and Murray I'm drawn it was committed in the prison of the temple six years later. Williams repeated the same scene in another house with a different audience and a different picture of Simon. He repeated the same great excitement and terror.
Only his words were different. Good God. I know that face. It has haunted me through all I have. At first Williams confided himself to private confidences and the writing of anonymous articles and letters which would subtly infuse the public with the idea that he was a dull fan. Eventually the Rev. Mr. John Hanson of New York became interested in the case of Billy Aser Williams One day my attention was arrested by a paragraph in a New York paper I believe it was the courier and Inquirer containing the strange and at first sight most improbable announcement that there was strong reasons for supporting him to be the son of Louis the Sixteenth and that he appeared to bear a strong resemblance to the bourbon family. It struck me at first as being one of those stories we see so frequently in print but it excited my curiosity at the first interview Hansen had with Williams was in the autumn of
1851. Williams agreed to talk about they do fam matter although he noted that the subject was extremely painful to him. Their conversation and the subsequent research done by Hansen resulted in a magazine article two years later and titled Is there a boy born amongst us. It created a controversy that lasted for years. There were many issues on which the controversy was based. Reverend Hansen had touched on the first major stumbling block when he talked to Williams. There seems to me I said one simple test of the truth of your claim. I mean your memory of childhood if you have always lived among the Indians you cannot forget it. And if you are the last of it seems scarcely credible that being at the time of your mother's death more than eight years of age you could have passed through the fearful scenes of the revolution without a strong impression of the horrors attendant on your early years.
Have you any memory of what happened in Paris voyage to this country. And therein he replied lives the mystery of my life. I know nothing about my infancy. Everything that occurred to me is blotted out entirely erased irrecoverably gone. My mind is a blank until 13 or 14 years of age. You must imagine a child who as far as he knows anything was an idiot destitute even of consciousness that can be remembered until that period he was bathing on Lake George among a group of Indian boys he clamored with the fearlessness of idiocy to the top of a high rock he plunged down head foremost into the water. It was taken up insensible and laid in an Indian hot. It was brought to life. That was the blue sky there were the mountains and there were the waters. That was the first I knew of life. Mr John Weiss Smith who knew Williams later reported to the State Historical Society of
Wisconsin about the Lake George incident. The truth is represented to been an imbecile almost idiotic. And to make his childhood correspond with out of the dull flat and to avoid all embarrassing questions concerning his early recollections Mr Williams pretended that prior to his being sent to Lake George to school his life was all a blank until a fall into Lake George and immediately all his Mundell faculties came to him bright and strong. It's a little curious that in 1815 a few years after this remarkable event he had no recollection of its occurrence but I remembered it distinctly in 1853. It seems probable that the event did occur as several other persons remembered it and the effect was wonderful. Perhaps this is the origin of the hydropathic practice. Most great discoveries are made by accident and why not this one. And anyway it seems to have
had a miraculous effect upon young Williams for not only cured him of idiocy but enabled him for years afterwards to know more about his parentage and the circumstances of his own birth than his own mother did. And if Mr. Hanson had taken a ducking in the same lake it might have taught him better than to father such a transparent forgery and confessed it in black and white with his own pen. When any of my friends wish were hydropathic treatment I shall by all means commend them to Lake George its waters must be better than all the waters of Israel for not a month the Syrian had to dip seven times in the Jordan to be cured of his leprosy. But one dip in Lake George was sufficient to cure alleys or the fire of his idiocy. Another moot point in the reverend Henson's article was the way in which your Williams came to believe himself the dull fact. Williams claimed he had been told by the prince via the third son of Louis Philippe the King of France in
1941 the prince had made a trip to America following the route his father had taken years earlier as an exile from France. He'd been interested in French and Indian history. Williams was known as an expert. It was probably on that basis that he was introduced to the prince at any rate they did meet and talk and ten years later Reverend Hanson accepted as truth. The portions of the diary of LDS or Williams that relate to the incident on Lake Michigan October 18th Monday. The captain was followed by a gentleman who was introduced to me as the prince does you want me. He appeared to be surprised and amazed as he grasped my hand in both of his which was accompanied by strong and cheering gratulations of his having an opportunity to meet me. Amazing sight he continued. It is what I have wished to see for this
long time. I trust I shall not be intruding too much on your feelings and patients when I do ask some questions in relation to your past and present life among the Indians. His eyes were intently fixed on me. I and my person from the crown of my head to the sole of my feet. October 19. Tuesday. This afternoon the prince expressed his wish to take my son with him to France for an education in connection with this he was informed that we had an infant who had not yet received baptism. He readily consented to stand as a godfather and would give the name of his mother to the child but alas. On my first landing I received a melancholy intelligence that the lovely babe was in her grave buried on the previous Sunday when the news was communicated to the prince. He appeared to sympathize with me and
remarked descendant of a suffering race may be supported in this election. About 10 o'clock the prince was pleased to enter into his remarks more particularly upon the family of the unfortunate king which were at first with me somewhat curious and interesting. But as he proceeded in his narration my feelings were greatly excited as it filled my inward soul with poignant grief and sorrow which were inexpressible. The prince spoke to this effect. He said You have been accustomed to consider yourself a native of this country but you are not. You are of foreign descent. You were born in Europe so and however incredible It may at first seem to you. I have to tell you that you are the son of a
king. You have suffered a great deal and have been brought very low but you have not suffered more or been more degraded than my father who was long in exile in poverty in this country. Yeah it was not only new but. Awful in nature to learn for the first time that I am connected by cancer and going to be with those whose history I had read with so much interest and for whose sufferings in prison and the manner of their deaths I had moistened my cheeks with sympathetic tears. To be informed that I had rights in Europe and one of these was to be the first over a mighty kingdom. Oh. The intelligence was so unexpected My mind was paralyzed for a moment.
It was overwhelming to my feelings. At that there there was a tremor in my whole system accompanied with a cold perspiration and the prince saw in my agitation and left the room with an excuse for ten or fifteen minutes. When he returned a splendid parchment was spread before me for signature to be affixed with a stamp and seal of Louis the sixteen the purport of the document was this. It was a solemn abdication of the crown of France in favor of Louis Filipe by Louis the son of Louis the sixteen but was styled the way the seventeenth King of France and Navarre with all accompanying names and titles of honor. The conditions were in brief that a princely establishment should be secured
to me either in this country or in France at my option. And that Louis Felipe would pledge himself on his part to secure the restoration or an equivalent of it of all the private property of the royal family rightly belonging to me which had been confiscated in France during the revolution or in any way got into other hands. After a consideration of several hours weighing the subject with much cool deliberation it was respectfully refused. If those awful and momentous moments it was happy that my mind was carried to the similar proposition and offers made to the way the eighteenth by Napoleon Hill in 18 being impaled from a sense of duty to sustain the honor of Kings for centuries. The same answer was given though I
am in poverty sorrow and exile. I shall not sacrifice my life. When Williams's account of his meeting with the prince was made public they prince does one of the head his secretary respond. He was a great deal kinder than most of William's critics. The pines health read the article to which you have called his attention. It is very true that in a voyage which he made to the United States towards the end of the year of 1841 the plant's finding himself had not you know met done bought a steamboat a passenger whose face he thinks he recognizes in departing right given in the Monthly magazine. The spasm jail seemed well informed concerning the story of North America during the last century. He related many anecdotes and interesting but to cure doubts concerning the French who took part and distinguished themselves in these events.
Our little rest of the article all of which traits of the relations of the plans with Mr. Williams of the mystery of his birth order which concerned a pretended personage of Louis the seventeenth is from one end to the other a work of imagination. Faber. What would the world think it a speculation upon the public credibility. The Reverend Hanson maintain that the prince had political reasons for lying. And anyway Williams himself had other evidence to offer. A French gentleman hearing my story brought a printed account of the captivity of the Dahl family and read me a note in which it was stated that Simone the jailer having being calm incensed with the prince for some childish offense took a towel which was hanging on a nail and in snatching it hastily drew out a nail with it and inflicted two blows upon his face. One over the left eye and the other on the right side of the nose.
And now said the French Gentleman let me look at your face. And when he did and saw the scars on the spots indicated in the memoirs he explained mom dear what more proof do I want. But that is not all in the same memoirs. It is sad that the doll fan died of scruffy Alaa and that the disease was on his knees. My knees are eaten up with scruffy and there are no other scrofulous marks on my body. The scars were not considered decisive proved by the skeptics. One investigator claimed that they were inflicted by means of lashes and Tartar Emetic ce. His mother had a simpler explanation. She remembered the skier's as the results of his Indian childhood when he ran among rocks stumps and thorn bushes without sufficient clothing. Another highly contested piece of physical evidence was Williams himself is complection is rather dark like that of one who had bronzed by living
much in the open air. These features are rather heavily molded and strongly characterized by the food protuberance Austrian lips his head is well formed and sits proudly on his shoulders. His eyes are dark but not black. His hair may be called black. His rich and glossy and interspersed with gray his eyebrows are full and of the same color. His beard is heavy his nose back when in the nostrils large and finally caught his temperament is Jean your with a dash of the facet and his manners and he inclines to embalm plaque which is the characteristic of the bobbin family up a pot to obviate a face east decidedly of a bourbon cast by the mouth and no out of pocked resemble the house of the Hapsburg. Heard all the peculiarities of a half breed Indian is undoubtedly he was if he'd been otherwise mentally or morally his hair and complection would have stamped him as a
mixed savage uncivilized blood. What Dems want to pass for a pure indian with just a suspicion of the African is complection and features. He is one quarter Indian as his physiognomy it must be confessed pretty plain. Shows all Mr Williams was a tall fine Hans a man of courtly bearing. My mother often said he had a perfect boob bald head. His profile was like the coin of that period. There is one point of family resemblance that is never missing in the Bourbons and which is characterized as the bourbon ear. It's to be found in the parts of Louis the Sixteenth and eighteenth child of the tent. They do shafts down glam and the Duke de Bordeaux. Justice is found in that of Mr. WILLIAMS. India knowledge is assured me that his ear is what is sure to mock his Indian origin about his ears. Whether evidence of his Indian blood or not they were much turned forward protruding from the
head and he always made an effort in walking to turn out his toes but forgetting it he would Indian like immediately turn the men. One who had been much accustomed to see them half breeds could hardly be mistaken in regard to Williams. He had all the marks of a half breed a skin. It was quite dark. His hair a jet black. He could not possibly have been a blonde as his claim for the. Much of the evidence for the contention that Williams was the last fat depended on Williams himself. His looks his Remembrance of Things Past his diary his claims that he lost important documents and letters and so naturally people's opinions about the ship came to
depend on their opinions of Williams himself. Mr Williams is I know a sane minded practical man who has his life to deal with the sternest realities and I believe he speaks words of truth and soberness. He has not the quality to invent such a dramatic scene and back between him and the brains he has he might long ago have turned into account. What conceivable motive can such a man have to fabricate an airy and vain fiction that he the poor Indian missionary is the descendant of long lines of European King. Williams was a visionary and of a braggadocio character always concocting schemes and when one came to not he was fertile in venting others. So when the idea of an Indian republic failed he naturally turned his attention to some new project something that would pander to his love of notoriety. There was little prospect of Louis the 17th rising up to
confront him. So he concluded to play the part of a king and have a brief strapped upon the public stage. He seems to like the attention his defense claim drew him. It was his chief effort never to speak or act or truth but always of all sort. If he couldn't to mislead his hearer's he would scarcely talk at all with him. Words were not use to exhibit but always to conceal the truth. And he was the most perfect adept at fraud deceit dunned intrigue that the world ever produced. The story related by the Hon. J was Smith on the authority of General Ellis is thoroughly characteristic of the men. While in Buffalo New York Mr. Williams General Ellis and dollars were invited to tea at the house of a wealthy a public opinion of that city. They were seated on a richly furnished table spread with a great variety of delicacies. The hostess asked Mr.
Williams whether he would take your coffee. He replied neither his health would not admit of his taking either team or coffee. What do you have a glass of milk. And now his stomach would not bear milk at all. What would he have to drink. He would take a cup of warm water with a very little milk in it. Then the problem was to find something he could eat. They went through their bill of fare offering in turn everything there was upon the table but there was nothing in his delicate stomach would bear in much embarrassment and almost in despair the lady begged him to mention anything which would agree with him and if possible she would get it if convenient. He would take a very thin bit of dry toast. So he sat and nibbled his dry toast and sipped his cup of warm water. Returning to their hotel about eleven o'clock in the same evening Williams rallied a waiter ordered him to sit on a calm and others substantial
demarche and sat down for a square meal and General Ellis believes that he ate a form of ham before he left the table. He then alone gave a hearty Indian chuckle and went to bed. And the general could not perceive that his delicate stomach was any the worse for it the next day. This trick he was in the habit of playing he would resort to it when among strangers when he thought he could excite a little sympathy and possibly induce a donation by the means. Despite the opinions of the skeptical El Yaser Williams was encouraged to become an open pretender to the throne of France. He received mail addressed to your gracious majesty and signed his own letters. He anticipated the time when he should be called back to restore the French government and
its old basis. And he promised his friends a ride to France on a nationalist ship. When his wrong had been righted. He noted that he wished to maintain the dignity of his family by manifesting conduct becoming to his royal race. And he had his hundred year old mother sign an affidavit which she did not understand stating that he was her adopted son. While some people laughed at him others were convinced articles and counter articles were published and the controversy raged for years. Williams died in utter poverty in 1858 his hopes had come to naught but the controversy over his claims did not die with him. Sixty two years later newspapers in Wisconsin carried an interesting article under the headline scientists deny Louis the 17th dies in the temple. French scientists have practically decided that the lad who died in the confines of the temple was
not the son of Marie Antoinette and Louis to 16. If this conclusion is definitely established and the government of the Republic accepts the verdict. Definite status will be given to many claims of families all over the world who purport to be true descendants of Louis Charlotte. The boy prince. The way it was presenting eyewitness accounts of historic events. Today the last defense of Green Bay. Material for this series was drawn from the files and papers of the State Historical Society it was guns. Consultant for the series was Doris Platt scripts by Beth Melbourne music by contempt for. Production. Ralph Johnson This is the national educational radio network.
The Way It Was
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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"The Way It Was" is a radio program which presents eye witness accounts of notable topics throughout American history. Each episode begins with a description of a specific event, person, or historical topic, followed by several dramatic readings of witness testimonies found in the files and papers of the state historical society of Wisconsin. The program was originally released in 1969, and was re-broadcast from the program library of National Public Radio.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-37-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:35
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Chicago: “The Way It Was; 5,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024,
MLA: “The Way It Was; 5.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <>.
APA: The Way It Was; 5. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from