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June 18: The Battle of Waterloo

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It’s the 205th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Today is the day a resurgent Napoleon Bonaparte lost it all in one final gamble. Did you know that Napoleon tried to escape to the United States after the battle? It’s true. Since the U.S. had just finished up its own war with the Brits, it seemed like a natural move. He would have been treated as a major celebrity. The Mayorship of New Orleans would have been in the bag. Unfortunately for him, British warships blocked his escape and he was eventually imprisoned on the barren South Atlantic Island of St Helena. True Story: About two hundred Bonapartists, including some of his generals, did manage to escape to America with plans of setting up a winery and olive plantation in Alabama. Alas, the soil didn’t prove suitable for wine vines or olive trees and after eight years of toil, the enterprise failed. Most of the colonists either moved to New Orleans or went back to France.