Topic: Interesting characters
•Grand Lodge is composed of Lodges
•Lodges are composed of members
•One EXTREMELY interesting Mason from California history:
•Emperor Norton the First
At the pre-emptory request 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 nine years and ten months past of San Fransisco, California, declare
and proclaim myself the Emperor of These United States. - September 17, 1859
•Highlights from the Emperor's reign ...
•1819 Born in London, England on February 14 to John and Sarah Norton
•1849 Arrived in San Francisco from South Africa with US $40,000
•1854 Lost the considerable fortune he had built up in real-estate speculation by trying to corner the rice market in San Francisco
•1859 September 17 - Issued the first of his now famous proclamations by proclaiming himself the Emperor of the United States
•Commanding that the Golden Gate bridge be built
•"Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abdominal word 'Frisco,' which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor."
•Penalty for noncompliance was $25.
Newspapers of the day printed his proclamations (and even made some up which were not from Norton!)
•Many of the “decrees” attributed to Norton I were fakes
•written in jest by newspaper editors at the time for amusement, or
•for political purposes.
•In order to pay his bills he issued paper notes,
•mostly in 50 cent denominations but
•some $5 and $10 notes exist.
•Today they are worth far more than the face value (if they can be found).
•He also lived off the kindness of his subjects, going withersoever he wished, holding court wherever his Imperial Highness happened to be.
•In someone’s back house
•Above a store
•In a Masonic Lodge building
•In 1869 he abolished both the Democratic and Republican parties,
•"Being desirous of allaying the dissension's of party strife now existing within our realm, I do hereby dissolve and abolish the Democratic and Republican parties, and also do hereby degree the disfranchisement and imprisonment, for not more than ten, nor less than five years, to all persons leading to any violation of this our imperial decree." --San Francisco Herald, August 4, 1869
•Another time he called upon the other leaders of the world to join him in forming a League of Nations where disputes between nations could be resolved peacefully.
•1880 Died January 8, on California St. On January 10,
•he was buried in the Masonic Cemetery.
•The funeral cortege was two miles long –
•Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were reported to have attended.
•1934 Grave moved to Colma Cemetery.
•During his daily patrol of the streets of San Francisco Norton made certain that all sidewalks were unobstructed. He reviewed the police to see that they were on duty. He checked on the progress of needed street repairs, inspected buildings under construction, and in general saw to it that all office city's ordinances were enforced.
•"During one of the typical anti-Chinese demonstrations so common at the time, the emperor gave the local populace a lesson in the practical application of civics - and prayer. Sensing the dangerously heated tone of one particular meeting, Norton is reported to have stood up before the group, bowed his head and begun reciting the Lord's Prayer. within a few minutes the agitators retreated in shame without putting any of their threats into cruel action."