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April 30, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Obscure Historical Oddity Of The Week – James Reavis, Baron of Arizona

James Reavis was a man who tried to steal the state of Arizona–and nearly succeeded. Born in the deep American south in the distant 1840s, our Reavis made a living using his skills of forgery in the property market, correcting imperfect property titles for fiscal gain. But it was in the 1870s that our hero’s big break arose, when–in a fit of delirious self-grandeur–he hatched a sinister plan to become baron of Arizona. To snatch this stately prize, Reavis wove a wonderful web of deceit, manufacturing trails of false documents that asserted title over thousands of acres of land, leaving a litany of lies in his wake and throughout the pages of history. But suspicions started to surface. People started asking questions. Reavis’ hefty claim was dismissed. And it was here that our tragic hero’s ego finally got the better of him, as he sued the US government for millions in damages, swiftly prompting a comprehensive investigation in which all of Reavis’ sordid lies were uncovered and Reavis was briskly sent to gaol. Several decades later, post-penitentiary, broke and destitute, the sorry life of James Reavis wound quietly–and unremarkably–to a close.

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