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DURING THE WAR BETWEEN BRITAIN AND FRANCE, men were drafted into the French army by a lottery system. When someone’s name was drawn, he had to go off to battle. But there was once exception: a person would be exempt if another was willing to take his place. On one occasion the authorities came to a man and told him he was among those who had been chosen.

But he refused to go, saying, “I was shot two years ago.” At first they questioned his sanity, but he insisted that this was the case. He claimed that the records would show that he had been drafted 2 years earlier and that he had been killed in action. “How can that be, since you are alive now?” they questioned. He explained that when his name came up, a close friend said to him, “You have a large family, but I am not married and no one is dependent on me. I’ll take you name and address and go in your place.” And that was indeed what the record showed. This unusual case was referred to Napoleon Bonaparte, who decided that the country had no legal claim on that man. He was free. He had died in the person of another.

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