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To Iowa, From Napoleon Bonaparte. With Love—and Regret.
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To Iowa, From Napoleon Bonaparte. With Love—and Regret.

Hello, Iowa. I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Napoleon Bonaparte. I'm not quite sure how to put this, but in my day, I was kind of a big deal. Just the Emperor of France and the most revered general in history.

More than two hundred years ago, I was this close to conquering the world—this close. But armies go through a lot of money, and I was running low on francs. I figured why not sell some land? In 1803, America offered me this sweet real estate deal called the Louisiana Purchase.

Little did I know, a piece of land that would later become the state of Iowa was included in this deal. What was an Iowa anyway? I had no idea at the time. During my long, long exile, my curiosity festered, and I decided to visit this place to see for myself.

What I thought would be a quick weekend drive-by turned into an extended vacation.

I discovered shops with amazing homemade chocolates and bistros whose chefs put Le Cordon Bleu to shame. I nibbled, then devoured, French toast, French bread, French pastries and French fries (even though those aren't really French).

I white-knuckled rides on roller coasters, hot air balloons, wacky water slides, and whitewater courses—all of which invigorated me more than any military conquest.

Oh, and the museums! The art! The festivals! There were cultural celebrations everywhere I went—German, Dutch, Irish, Czech—even French.

I witnessed a breathtaking sunrise on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. And just when I caught my breath, I lost it again watching a sunset in the Loess Hills.

I experienced the crookedest street in the world, the world’s shortest and steepest scenic railway, the country’s widest main street and the world’s smallest church.

I went canoeing, water skiing, bike riding, ziplining, and rock climbing. Every “ing” you can think of.

What an unforgettable trip! What a beautiful land! What a blast! Check out amazing moving pictures of all the great places I visited, and even more that I didn’t, at

What a boneheaded decision to sell such a place! If only I’d known—I never would have sold Iowa.

Yours truly,

Napoleon Bonaparte

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