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Notable Monarchs + Presidents Who Lived in Hoboken

by Eliot Hudson
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While Hoboken has recently been beset with a slew of A-list celebrities, it has also been home to an Emperor and even a foreign president. The 1st President and last Emperor of France, Napoleon III, lived in Hoboken, and the 35th President of Ecuador attended Stevens. Even newly crowned King Charles III has ties to Hoboken through Stevens Institute. Read on for more about Hoboken’s royal connections.

Napoleon III

napoleon iii france monarch

Photo Credit: Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Napoleon III, born Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, was the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, and following the collapse of the first Napoleon regime, the entire Bonaparte family was exiled from France. Charles further upset the French government when he led a failed coup in 1836. The French government pursued Charles to Switzerland and began mounting an army on the French-Swiss border when Charles decided to leave Europe to avoid instigating a war.

When Charles arrived in the United States, he chose to live in Hoboken from 1836-1837, renting a room on Bloomfield Street near the corner of 1st Street — which neighbored the home of John Jacob Astor who also lived in Hoboken at the time.

napoleon iii hoboken bloomfield street

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The two became friends and enjoyed spending time with the Stevens family who also entertained intellectual heavyweights like Washington Irving.

Charles cut short his stay in Hoboken in an attempt to regain the French throne — a feat he accomplished 10 years later when he was elected the first president of France from 1848 to 1852, before declaring himself Emperor, becoming the last French monarch from 1852 to 1870.

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Charles loved Hoboken so much, he even sent gifts to Our Lady of Grace Church while he was Emperor of France. After befriending Father Anthony Cauvin, the founder of Our Lady of Grace Church, he send Father Cauvin a gold chalice engraved with the French imperial coat of arms. The chalice is still used once a year at Christmas Mass.

our lady of grace church hoboken

The building where Charles lodged was renamed the Napoleon Hotel and preserved his table, bed, and chairs for many years thereafter.

Read More: The Day the Mona Lisa Took a Road Trip Down the New Jersey Turnpike

President of Ecuador, Leon Febres Cordero

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Napoleon III is not the only head of state to spend time in Hoboken. Ecuador’s 35th president, León Febres Cordero attended Stevens Institute of Technology, graduating with the class of 1953. León enjoyed Stevens so much that after becoming elected President of Ecuador, he returned to Hoboken to speak at Stevens in 1984, staying 2.5 hours during his first official visit to the United States as President. In his address, he credited Stevens for his success:

“If I would have to do it all over, I would go through Stevens all over again,” León said in both English and Spanish, “Everything I learned for my profession, I learned it here.”

leon febres stevens institute of technology hoboken

Photo Credit: Stevens Archives

In a reception at the Stevens Center, León was showered with Stevens gifts, including a sweatshirt, tie, pin, and a copy of the Stevens charter. In return, León gave Stevens an autographed picture of himself.

Former classmates came to celebrate León’s return:

“We were in the same dormitory,” recalled Charles Schnabolk, class of 1953, “He used to cook rice on his hot plate. Now he has a $10-million austerity program. He’s a very bright guy.”

The 1953 Stevens yearbook described the young León: “One of the few young men in the class who has virtually chosen his life’s work, León’s attraction to the sugar industry is second only to his attraction for women.”

leon febres cordero stevens yearbook

Photo Credit: Stevens Archives

León never entered the sugar industry, which was his father’s business. Instead, he made his fortune by manufacturing corrugated steel boxes.

León is the only graduate of Stevens to become a head of state and he saved his trip to Hoboken after meeting with then-President Reagan in Washington, D.C. At the time of his visit in 1984, León was the head of the right-of-center Social Christian Party and was considered an anti-Communist ally of the Reagan administration. When asked to comment on Reagan’s Central American policies León skirted the question and answered diplomatically: “The Central American people have a right to self-determination, the right to aspire to nonintervention.

See More: Essex County Is Home to These Revolutionary War Historical Sites

Honorable Mention: King Charles III

king charles iii england

Photo Credit: Stevens Archives

An honorable mention goes for an honorary degree presented to the newly crowned King Charles III. Though King Charles III never visited Hoboken, it didn’t stop him from accepting an Honorary Degree from Stevens Institute of Technology in Houston, Texas, on October 24th, 1977.

During the ceremony, then Prince Charles accepted a folio containing a facsimile of a letter from the Founder of Stevens, Edwin Augustus Stevens, describing the time Queen Victoria visited Stevens’ yacht “America” after it had defeated all English contenders in a race which has since become known as the America’s Cup.

mary whitney stevens king george v

Photo Credit: Stevens Archives

Charles then remarked that the Stevens family was actually related to the British royal family as distant cousins. The Stevens family had married into an aristocratic Virginia family who traced their ancestry back to the royal family.  Mary Whitney Stevens, a matriarch of the Stevens family, was even close friends with King George V and attended his coronation in 1911.

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