In 1815, on this day the American shipping merchant Sampson Vryling Stoddard (S.V.S.) Wilder disembarked at his home port of Boston accompanied by the deposed French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Napoleon's Escape to North America
by Ed and Eric OppenA member of the small American community in Paris, Wilder was an acquaintance of both Talleyrand and Lafayette. Impressed by the changes brought about in society and politics under Napoleonic Rule, he was compelled to act after the tragic defeat at Waterloo. And so he travelled to Île d'Aix and offered to help the Emperor escape the British blockade.
Reluctant to leave his fellows, appeals to Napoleon's sense of grandeur finally prevailed and he was eventually persuaded to flee to America and establish the "Second France" where his friends could join him. Perhaps he even imagined a fanfare welcome from James Madison, the President who had declared war on England in 1812.
But first they had to get to that future. And the escape plan was deceptively simple, to travel in disguise under a passport prepared for the merchant's valet. But of course there was a complication; until the danger-line was passed, he would have to be concealed in the false compartment of a hogshead barrel. Water was to drip incessantly, and during the voyage, he developed the pneumonia that would kill him shortly after he arrived at the merchants house in Bolton, Massachusetts.