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Sweet Georgia

In 1732, the English general and philanthropist James Edward Oglethorpe secured a charter to establish the colony of Georgia as a refuge for the rehabilitation of men newly released from English debtors' prisons.

Sadly, Oglethorpe was dismayed to find not only that few debtors were interested in coming, but that many of those who did come soon reverted to their old ways. Even worse, in 1743, Oglethorpe, having spent his fortune developing the colony, ran into debt and was recalled to England and court-martialed. Ironically, had charges not been dropped, Oglethorpe might have ended up... back in Georgia!

["Dutch pot smuggler Willem Merk once escaped from St. Helena, a British prison built on a 47-square-mile island of volcanic rockby using soap to make copies of prison keys, which guards left out while they went to the john. He left an audio tape of himself snoring in his cell, then set sail on a driftwood-and-styrofoam boat he'd paid an islander (whom he'd met on an extended exercise break) $150 to make. With only a page torn out of an atlas for a map, 15 cans of beans, a can opener and a fishing rod, Merk floated 2,000 miles to Brazil without a compass or a radio. Upon landing, he appealed to the Dutch embassy, which repatriated him to Holland, a free man."]

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