Friday, May 15, 2009

Norton The Second .. Part One

I'm certainly known for having my own language, although I tend not to throw out a lot of old English, I find it dry, and hard to read. I do think its funny that the old timers always began with a whereas in their writing. I'll need counsel to explain to me what exactly that means.

Much like a friend of ours with her fancy 'Vintage Photo Fridays' I too have posted a vintage photo of a fellow Norton -- just have a look.
This fine looking ancestor (of sorts) was the first Emperor of the United States. Yes its true, I'm practically royalty. And all this time I thought it had been an accident at birth that I wasn't royalty. Now for the all too humorous history of John Abraham Norton 1 (aka the first).

So Emperor Norton was a dapper gentlemen of great wealth in 1852. There was no mention of a wife or children - hence the 'of sorts' addition to my claim that he was my ancestor. But all that aside a dapper gentlemen, yes -- that he was. His initial wealth came from his fathers estate. John in his great wisdom moved to San Fransisco and invested in real estate. Soon enough he is living high on the hog, and then it happened. Some sort of rice debacle in China that caused the price to increase rapidly.

A ship from Peru came into port loaded with rice, and the good Emperor to be decided to invest in this rice, and purchased every bit of it. Sadly the next day ten other ships pulled into port with loads of rice themselves. This caused the price to drop dramatically; John, in his wisdom, decided not to honor his agreement to purchase the rice and instead claimed that there were mis-truths leading to his purchase, and the contract was void.

Blah blah blah -- fast forward to 1857, the Supreme Court of California decided against John and ordered his assets seized to pay the money owed plus interest and fees... Our dear friend is suddenly bankrupt. He disappears for a time and then reappears in 1859 with quite the proclamation.

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.[12][16]
I shall use his proclamation as a guide for my big move -- but back to the story. So he gets some people to believe in him, in fact someone from the Army gives him a dress uniform (seen in the photo above), all this appears to add credibility to his self proclamation as Emperor. To this end he added the beaver hat decorated with a peacock feather, and a rosette. What a goon, although a funny goon. Please picture your husband (or some guy you know) walking about with a peacock feather in his hat, and try not to laugh -- see its just not possible.

Alright, so now that he is Emperor, he doesn't see a need for Congress. He has some high falutin Major that he orders out with his Army, of which there is no record, to go out and clear the Congressional Hall. I'm guessing the Major just humored the good Emperor, as did so many people as time went on.

As time goes on he issues a number of laws, and Decrees but this is my absolute favorite.

"Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word "Frisco", which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars"

This in reference to those that are too lazy to use the entire name of the city. Okay so at that I'm beginning to think our little trip down the family tree my be getting a fungus...

Coming soon part two -- How the Great Emperor single handedly dismantled the National Parties, what he spent most of his working hours accomplishing, and how he paid his debts.

As a side note you may notice that Claires due date is today. We will certainly keep you posted, but as of yet; no baby!

1 comment:

Valerie said...

Love it! And haha, me and my "fancy" vintage photo posts -- there ain't nuthin' too fancy 'bout this Oklahoma gal! :)