The case before the Supreme Court in Stockholm was open and shut. How it even came to that level only spoke to the popularity of the man being charged. Ola Mansson was a powerful member of the Farmer Estate in the Riksdag.
“Mister Mansson, I don’t understand your argument. This letter, signed by you, clearly shows involvement. You’ve accepted interest on state loans.” said the prosecutor.
“What I do on my own time is my own personal business; what I did was for the common man, whom people like you have forgotten,” Mansson said defiantly.
“That’s fine, sir, but you’ve used your public position for private benefit,” the prosecutor retorted. “Your signature on official State Bank letterhead is proof. This is embezzlement!”
“Let me see that paper!” Mansson demanded.
The prosecutor confidently crossed the floor of the grand hall in the Bonde Palace, holding the damning paper in the air so all of the Councilors of Justice could see it. He handed it to Mansson.
Mansson looked at the document for a moment and then gave the prosecutor a hard stare.
“This is what I think of your evidence ...” he said.
Before an astonished audience, he calmly tore the paper into two pieces, bent over and wiped them on his bottom. The court went into recess.
Before the verdict was reached, Mansson was already on the run with his mistress, heading across the ocean, far away from Sweden. He didn’t stop running until June 4th, 1859, when he reached Minnesota.
His flight from justice across the ocean was quickly forgotten. Conversely, the flight that his grandson made across the Atlantic Ocean sixty-eight years later would be remembered forever. And innocently, while piloting over Sweden in 1933, Charles A. Lindbergh commented, “I wonder why my folks ever left this place!”