Talk:Joshua Abraham Norton

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Original Proposal

I think Ben's original proposal is worth hanging on to for reference. It is a good piece of work.

Josue Abraham Norton was born to Jewish parents in London around 1818. He grew up in the growing English Cape Colony in South Africa and left home in 1849, around thirty years old, to emigrate to America. He emigrated to Osage, Louisianne, and went west to Montrei in 1854 during an apparent lull in the area's period of war. From this point he took on the Montreiano form of his name, Hosue. When war with Alta California broke out, Norton left for the provinical town of San Francisco and lost his money speculating on real estate and rice. He left the city for a few months in 1856 (whereabouts unknown). Upon his return he sent a message to San Fancisco's newspapers: "At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of the Republics of Montrei and Alta California, and in light of said republics' inability to resolve their differences peacably, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of Montrei and Sovereign over these United Californias."

Thus commenced Norton's unusual and whimsical "reign" over Montrei. The citizens of San Francisco him as an endearing oddity, purchasing a European-style military uniform and treating him with deference. In the newspapers he was always "Hosue Norton I, by the grace of God Emperor of Montrei and of these united Californias." He spent the next two decades issuing decrees and regularly inspecting the police force. He became a beloved icon of San Francisco and became known elsewhere as well.

In the 1870s, during the lengthy, convoluted process that resulted in the complex political organism called Oregon, a group of communities in the Klamath Mountains, just north of the Alta California border, declared their allegience to Norton. The people, predominantly made up of trappers and loggers, were trying to secure self-determination and avoid domination by large logging companies. The result was the Free Empire of Norton, the only subdivision of Oregon modelled after a European monarchy. (This will have to be checked against what is currently known about Oregon.)

Norton, who had added "...and Protector of the Free Empire of the North" to his list of titles and honorifics, visited the area several times before moving there permanently in 1879 (age 61). There the aging Emperor was cared for in his old age and died in 1882.

The Free Empire of Norton still exists, with borders roughly the same as Jackson County, Oregon *here* and a population of about 150,000. The sovereign, obviously, is a figurehead, but is beloved and respected in the Free Empire.

I'm not sure how succession works. Possibly, Norton himself chose his own successor, and that practice continues today (in which case the current Emperor is His Nortonic Majesty Raymond Smith I). It is also possible that the people elect an absentee Emperor, who can be anyone at all (His Nortonic Majesty John Cleese?) The second option has a definite silliness factor (imagine a foreign actor or football star getting a letter informing him of his elevation), but the first option presents more opportunity for coronations, imperial decrees, etc.

It was later pointed out that the Montraiano form of his name would be "Josue", first consonant pronounced [dZ].

IB Source material

We discussed J.A. Norton somewhat back in 2000 and 2004 on Conculture. During the 2000 discussion, one conculturer has him as Emperor of California (not IB). In 2004, Nik wondered if he might have declared himself emperor of Alta-California: "Hee hee. El Presidente de la Republica de los Pengüinos! That would be a rather amusing little storyline there. Not unlike *here*'s Emperor Norton I (did he exist *there* as well? Perhaps declaring himself Emperor of Alta California?)"

While such a character would suit IB's liking for historical whimsy, striding the streets of San Francisco as its emperor, alas it was not to be. Sometimes IB's history takes a more sober turning... "Yes. Unfortunately for History, he was a modestly successful businessman down in the Cape. He died in a rail derailment in 1901. Thus, he never declared himself Emperor. Sorry. As I recall, what máde him Norton I *here* was the personal crash of a successful career. I'm sure it sent him into a depression. In IB, he never even left South Africa for America."

That's what we know of Joshua A. Norton *there*.


Those letters will make a mighty cool-looking corporate logo, if anyone wants to make it. Benkarnell 09:44, 19 October 2007 (PDT)

How about this?

--Pedromoderno 16:43, 19 October 2007 (PDT)

Yes, that looks excellent! I like the play on N-E-W-S; not what I expected at all-- very clever! Benkarnell 06:08, 22 October 2007 (PDT)