Napoleon Bonaparte? Haley Barbour? Woodrow Wilson?
Dear Quote Investigator: I saw Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi on television recently and he recited a quotation that he attributed to Napoleon [HBCNN] [HBFOX]:
You know, Napoleon said ‘Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself.’
Is this an accurate quote? Could you investigate whether Napoleon actually presented this as military advice?
Quote Investigator: Yes, QI can attempt to trace this quote for you. QI was unable to find an exact match for this advice in the 1800s, but QI did find words attributed to Napoleon in an 1836 history book during a discussion of an 1805 battle. These words may have been transformed into the modern maxim. QI also found similar statements made during the past one-hundred and seventy-four years.