Monday, August 4, 2008

Emperor Norton

Norton Grave

Sorry for the late post, I wasn't feeling all too good last night. Consider this to be the Sunday pic.

Joshua Norton (1818-1880) was a resident of San Francisco. On September 17, 1958, he published the following notice in the city's newspapers:

"At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.

NORTON I, Emperor of the United States"

As "Emperor", he was treated deferentially by the citizens of San Francisco. The currency he printed in his name was accepted by the merchants he frequented. He was said to have single-handedly stopped a pogrom against the poorer Chinese immigrants of the city by positioning himself in front of the mob, kneeling, and reciting the Lord's Prayer until the rioters dispersed themselves without further incident.

He issued "decrees" including declaring the use of the word "Frisco" describe the city to be an offense with a fine of $25.00 (an outrageous amount at that time), and requiring that a bridge be built connecting San Francisco and Oakland (the current position of the Bay Bridge).

His grave was moved when the City of San Francisco removed all gravesites in the city out to Colma, and he rests in Woodlawn Cemetery there, under the gravestone pictured above.

Much more information about him can be found at the Wikipedia entry for him.

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