The Great Stock Exchange Fraud
Monday, 21st February 1814
On the morning of Monday, 21 February 1814, a uniformed man posing as Colonel du Bourg, aide-du-camp to Lord Cathcart, arrived at the Ship Inn at Dover, England, bearing news that Napoleon I of France had been killed and the Bourbons were victorious. Requesting that this information be relayed on to the Admiralty in London via semaphore telegraph, "Colonel du Bourg" proceeded on toward London, stopping at each inn on the way to spread the good news. At about noon, confirmation for the news of peace arrived in the form of another coach which circulated throughout London, bearing three French officers who distributed leaflets celebrating the Bourbon victory. Rumors of Napoleon's defeat had been circulating throughout the month, and the combined events had a significant impact on the London Stock Exchange. The value of government securities soared in the morning, after the news from Dover began to circulate among traders at the Exchange. Lacking official confirmation of the news, prices began to slide after the initial rush, only to be further propped up at noon by the French officers and their handbills.
However, the entire affair was a deliberate hoax. In the afternoon, the government confirmed that the news of peace was a fabrication. The affected stocks' prices immediately sank to their previous levels.