Emperor Norton – The First and Only Emperor of The United States


Episode Transcription

Made by robots, for robots. Only read if you're weird.

Hey Man, what's up baby boy, you know why I did that. I Apologize. I say only you know when you talk to your pets too much like you have human interaction, yeah! That's where I was this week H and I call my girl friend, moved to the city this week. Yeah. I know we don't hangout hung out more when she lived in Los Angeles than we do now, rips off the Tuxedo right, there's a camera guy on the corner, we're going to put sauce on chicken nuggets for you guys, so you bought a shipload of rice when the world had no access to it and you built the throne out of the rice. I love the New World Order, a big fan and I would like it to be known by everyone that I think that there's one government that rules, the all things, sis and I know she's, going to come in at some point and grab. My can't do the that. So I kind of hope that she's in my apart r now so she can hear this. She bought a bunch of stuff on Amazon, put the wrong zip code. So all of her stuff is getting delivered to a house in Parkville that every and she didn't order it all at once. She never does she orders it one thing every day, yeah, instead of all at once, like a normal human being because in her brain this is how Reagan works right in her brain. She goes. I can't justify spending a hundred and fifty dollars yeah. I can spend thirty dollars a day for five days in a row. You know what I'm talking about, and it's just like dude. What are you just? Do it all at once, right, yeah, so guess who's got to go to Parkville every day to pick stuff up I mean it should be her. I agree, you know who it is, though, I've got a gets it to you, no s she's going and getting it today. I think, but we now she's becoming friends with the owner of this house and the Er just like. So what are you going to change your address on him was at the owners. Here's! What was weird the owner is like this isn't the first time it happened, and I we you have a very specific address. That's how well I mean not even very specific now that there's there's no non specific addresses. That's how this works. You know. So what do you mean? That would mean that the person who lived in Reagan's current apartment had to have also done. Also did this interesting anyone that seems intentional. All right, hey man, I'm ordering a bunch of stuff on Ames on and having it ship there on purpose. I'M gonna show up in the idea a similar address, not at all, not even close, not at all hey. We have never heard of the US mail service close. Have you ever heard of the Pony Express close? Have you ever heard of Emperor Norton? That's not at all anywhere near. I remember a Norton Yeah Yeah he's the guy who plays in fight club what a Morn Orton, who he was in the two thousand and eight hulk movie you're, going to love that joke. When you look it up, the two thousand and eight halts movie yeah, the not good one yeah so mark Ruffalo was emperor. Norton. Are you talking about Lou Ferrigno, not at all a er? What T S O Edward Orton there you go see was that good. That was worth it. If you weren't stupid, that was everyone else litsen this got it. You know I was like emperor and everyone else is like that's an Edward Norton joke. That's Pretty Faisait fight club people got it and you were like. Are you talking about loofs? I don't think he was in like not talking about Lu de Sonai. Don't follow celebrities enough to get your Pobul ture jokes and, let's start over Emperor Norton. His name is Joshua Abraham Norton. This feels like he can. I take a guess at who Emperor Norton is yes. She is he a guy and like Kentucky who owns a mountain, and he like has made this compound and he calls himself in Per Norton no better in. He was born in Eighteen, Eighteen, oh okay, so you're a real old one; okay and in s eighteen and fifty nine, he proclaimed himself norton the first emperor of the United States. Okay, this is kind of what I wanted. Yeah yeah, it's close. You got kind of a I wanted a guy like now to do it but yeah. I will settle on an eighteen eighte, you now O N Eighteen, fifty nine! Oh that's because he was born in a modern, almost yeah. So I don't know anything pre civil war is, you know? Is he the reason for the civil world? God? No, so Eber Norton? He was born in Eighteen, eighteen in England, I his family shortly after that moved to South Africa and then to well after his dad died. He moved to San Francisco. His parents were pretty wealthy, so he inherited forty one thousand dollars from his father after his father passed away and how much it was that now forty one thousand dollars in eighteen, forty yeah, it's a significant sum of money. I'll tell you that much for sure. So that's I mean whose life wouldn't be changed by forty one thousand dollars. You know, even today. Here's what I hate about that amount of money is. I can see Dave Rams on Fox News and like if forty one thousand dollars would change your life. Then you were, you know you were screwed to begin with, and it's like thank you. Seventeen million dollar house day ransy seventeen million dollars yeah forty. I found a nice little calculator hey. This is what is it is nice how much the things cost one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine com. Now it's official data, DOT, ORG, okay! So, according to official data that or forty one thousand and eighteen, forty is worth one point: two million today. Okay, so I mean a chunk yeah, he got. He got a small inheritance of a million dollars. I got a small inheritance of forty one thousand, so after you moved to San Francisco, he took his small inheritance yeah and made a successful living for himself in two fields, one as a commodities trader and one as a real estate speculator, and so you just bought houses and sold them and then again it's a real estate speculator. So basically you're like that seems like real Estan, that's vacation! I don't know your house seems full of speculation. What man he pulls it. Let me check my binder and see if this is a real home. You know oh my gosh, so he took that money. Yeah you could. If you got money, you can make money yeah! That's how Credo works. That's how that's how money works? Just in general, you have enough! You make a lot more, so he became very wealthy and pretty quickly rose through the links, the ranks in SANFRISCO business scene. I tried so hard. The more I thought don't live. It then same temor. I saw your face shrink into itself. Okay, so he became socially very prominent in San Francisco. A lot of business. People really looked up to him and a lot of a lot of political leaders really looked up to him because he was just winning and every way yea in the Eigen S, and he was he was a prominent roaring eighteen for the roaring S, and so he was the poster child of success. You know, but something happened. What screaming in our ears. Thank you. Something happened yeah. So there was a famine in China that the Chinese government said things are bad, we're not exporting anything. We need to keep it, so we don't know more bionicles. We can't keep taking on them out right now. There's a famine literally everywhere in the else in the world is playing with these wooden soldiers, like that I witals IC Ostis, aren't even invented they're steel by articles bionicles for ten dollars. What a steel I would speculate that is so China's not I don't know. I guess what I associate Chinese products with is just cheap stuff. Now, obviously, that's what the joke was, but what were they exporting at that time? So they were exporting rice and lots of it. Obviously, and so the price of rice was around five to six cents per pound and when they stopped exporting it, the value of rice world wide skyrocketed because crazy that every small town has a Chinese restaurant. Do you think that was part of like the government's plan to get rice out? THAT'S BIG RICE RIGHT! That's like that's like the big race. In the ring right I mean like every small town. Every small town in existence has a Chinese restaurant. I mean every town, every town has a Chinese restaurant yeah, but they also have got I restaurant we've got twelve. They also, I er. What other restaurants are re, saying that, for I mean her, not even per capita per block, I don't know you know, there's my small town now burning. We had two at one point: We had two and a food truck. Well, that's how that that's, how that works, because it's like everybody, immigrates to the big city and then they're like there's too much competition here and we I open the shop somewhere in seeing that that was part of big rice, you're, saying big RIS. Big Rice was like go to the small towns, get him hooked on Rice. I'm just saying I mean they. You men make a lot of opportunities to sell it. Here's the stats, according to the Chinese American Restaurant Association, there's all the societ. That's what I'm saying it's big enough that there's an association there are forty housed Chinese restaurants. In the S, the number is greater than all the McDonald's Kate CFCs, Pizza Huts, Taka Bells and Wendy's an I'm say in that's what I'm saying a lot of there's a lot of Chinese restaurants right yeah, which is great I'm all. I love their food yeah. I you know. I also love that it's not actual Chinese food. I love that they came here and they were like. Listen, let's make something that we're going to put sauce on chicken nuggets for you guys and sell and like because we're dons revolutionary they literally hated to us and they're like this is what we eat and we were like. This is foreign yea for super cheap. They got US good for real. They really did they really did they got US good, but I'm saying like there's a lot of them yeah. So you're saying there was some I'm saying there was the fear said by big rice. That was the joke. I was trying to make and then it turned into this whole like dude. There really are a lot of Chinese restaurants, okay, so the price skyrocketed of of rice from about five to six cents per pound to somewhere between forty and sixty cents. Oh my, but I there was a bubble on rice, yeah, so rice, all the SED EF became super valuable l have signs an say by Rice. You know there was a we got. Rice Bros out here, who are just like, as all they could talk about is like R, I'm just trading ryse all day. You know, I'm buying a pound here, sell a half a pound at night, keeping that a half pounds of next day sell it. What of the by the dip by the damp yeah? There was a rice market, that's great, no yeah, so Norton Joshua Norton. He had a contact in the shipping industry who told them that there was a ship load of Peruvian rice arriving in San Francisco and he trusted this guy. This guy, he blowed a shipload and he told them that this ship load of rice was the last load of rice from Peru. They were out of rice throughout a road and they're shipping into San Francisco and so Norton. He quickly runs and buys this entire ship load of rice for twelve cents, a pound. So a ton of money, something I mean how many pounds are on a ship I mean he bought. I think it was about eight or nine hundred mean I did buy a shipload of little caesars pizza. Once you know I was like a Palata pizza is not enough. You know, I need a barge we're goin ne to bring in the tug boat, so it was about eight hundred thousand dollars worth of rice. So a lot of money well, but he turns around and sells it for forty dollars a pound. That was the plan until the next day. A couple dozen more Peruvian ships of rice show up and then peruse like hey guys. We got a ton of rice who needs some, and so they saw some guy was just like: Hey man, they're out of rice and Peru yeah, and he was like I buy all the he did. I mean he was like you know: Selling Toilet Paper, a basic market place. He bought the debt. What E was was that there was a theoretical DEP happening, but it wasn't yeah, and so that's why- and this is important- there is a shortage of till an merchandise. Okay, it is there's not it's non existent. There's only last ship load, we've got a a the E got so load of till in merchandise that you can purchase solve that's a pound. We measure it by the pound. You can buy a buyer shirts by the Pat Yeah Holy. I went down to the dock today and I bought myself twenty six pounds till a t, shirt killing by the pound. You know that that is so funny to me. Is it so? I don't know I was going to try to make it by the pound joke like now by the pound, like B: u y the pound, you know how he goes. You can get us by the bat, so a bunch more ships came in and Norton was really mad because he was out because the pride is just standing over the ocean just like looking at them all rolling. You know they're Gutton Bein right, so he sitting on his now throne, made of rice but he's just like the right, I'm the rice, King Right, and so I'm the rice king, looking out over the ocean right. It's everybody across an fans coming to him with cups I like so can I have A. I have some rice he's like you're lucky I bought the last ship. I was seventy five cents, a pound, the like okay, they reach into their bag and they're like they all look like tiny, Tim Right and so they've all got crutches right. They all walked on crutches at that time and of like please, please, you know and he's dealing at rises and they turn around and there's just like. I mean it looks like a war movie that Wus like just ship they just rolling in as on this or some reason, they're like pirate ships, they've got the big like you know, sales and stuff yeah. Then he just he stands up because it's time for war, they don't even dock, they retell roll up on the shore. They started shooting, cannon loads of rain. They didn't prepare these ships for a round trip. All right. These ships are crashing into the shore right is just spilling all over into the ocean. It's actually expanding and becoming you know becoming its own Ilan t. This is why silent there wasn't San Francisco the peninsula. Wasn't there that's the rice and on top of it they built Alcatras is square. This is where we'll house or rice prisoners- oh my gosh yeah. So he lost a lot of money. The price. With about forty, what did I say, forty to sixty cents, a pound to four cents, a pound, so west of a re Dang, and so by the time he sold it. He lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was very mad, so he sued his contact and court for lying to him and lost that and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees ended up hundreds of thousands of legal fees in eighteen fifteen yeah, because he went really really hard trying to prove that this guy lie to him, but he lost so he lost all that money lost the money from the original deal ended up having to declare bankruptcy, the bank foreclosed on all of his properties and he just sort of disappeared over rice over a speculative rice. He was a real estate speculator, not a rice speculator. He got out of his market and he got out stayed in your lame stay in your Lane Morton, so he kind of disappeared off the face of the Earth for about ten years. There is one record in the middle of that ten year span where he was a juror in some case, so we got called for. Jury die. How long like about a ten year span where he just was disappeared? No one really knows what he was doing in this. She was a door yeah. He got called for Jerry duty and he he did that, and then he found him they'll serve you just wherever you're going to camp in the woods, hiding you're a disgraced rice flipper. We need another jer. What about that Rice King from a few years ago, hear me out right. I don't know why some people have tiny tim accents and some people are just like now hear me out right, that's what I s that Rice guy and like they all are anyway. So after about ten years in the late eighteen, fifteen fifty eight he comes back into San Francisco and starts kind of showing himself in public again, and everybody at this point is like they've: either forgot about him or his leg. I walk in the town was like everyone's going to notice me and people are like hi he's like yeah. It's me I was the rice guy in the were like excuse me. What yeah I mean it was me. I was like the you know, the botteney about a ship load or rises. You know and they're like I an welcome to o San Francisco. You know nobody remember this. At all yeah, so a lot of people didn't remember: Some people did, but he had a turn is reputation, so they won't do business with some people were like you're. That guy was setting that Rice throne yeah yeah. That was a throne of rice. You bought a shipload of rice when the world had no access to it and you built a throne out of the rice that was like seventy pounds of Ri gest it it's in the town circle we make fun of you museum. We actually have a once a year. We were Rice festival where we put someone, we put someone on the round and we bring them into the middle of the town and we brutally murder them. You know almost Mardarin, we don't kill people, but we almost murder Eh, it's you know the kids love it and I feel like it. We need to explain why that was so funny to me now now, yeah go ahead, an tell your little story, so I found out the other day that there's a place in Indonesia that has this festival once a year where on Easter- and this is what Jaren was joking about- this is going to sound, like I'm a really bad person. If you're saying I'm joking about this now, but go ahead every Easter, they replicate the crucifixion yeah, so they have some one build across and they carry it though the town square, I think, o about everyone dresses up like the Roman, emperors and stuff and then apparently allegedly speculatively. They select someone from the crowd and it's like a great honor to be crucified, and I mean they don't like they put some nails to their hands and they hang them up and they lift the cross. They don't put anything to their feet and then they let them hang there for a minute. They pull them down, they don't kill them, but they do sandals. I don't think eleve that that's what I'm saying like. I don't believe that that's real yeah, and so he made fun of it by once a year they put someone on the rice throne, take them to the town, they nail them the it is it's so like. I don't believe that I don't know you have to feed. You have to find some verifiable information on that yeah yeah. If you do we'll do a bonus episode about it, cool sounds good and it will be that clip that I just will just cut that clip right there or we could just go. Oh yeah, let's just try it. Let's see if we get selected, no, I'm gonna, that's what I'm saying I'm going to make. I may sure you can. I want to get tasted only the only step, only logical, step next to to write down the time stay. Just in case later you go. I don't know if I want to make a joke about. I want to get Mace, taste and possibly crucified. I don't know if you want that to be up. If you are fight with it I'll leave it in. You know we'll leave it in if you're fine with it. You know, but like I just don't know like do you want other jobs with me or a hat you can just anyways. So Norton comes back and for a couple of years he's becomes kind of like the the dude in town who is like the government, sucks it what they're doing, and I could do it better than them and he's just very loud about it and everyone's like oh here- comes Norton and he's GROMS doring in his political opinions, everybody just try to change the subject. Yeah everybody just pretend it's. You agree with him. It'll be faster. It's like Thanksgiving with your weird uncle every year were just got to be like yeah. That is crazy, yeah and he's like okay, but hear me out. Big Rice, okay is trying to take over the world and you're like yeah, okay, Uncle Tarry, that's pretty crazy! So so on September, seventeenth, eighteen, fifty nine. He takes matters into his own hands and he eighteen what eighteen, fifty nine September, seventeen eighteen, fifty nine. He dresses up in military regalia. So like an old like blue, like almost like, like civil war era, looking military suit yeah with the buttons and the Stripe on the pants and then he's wearing a like a raccoon hat, that's adorned with all these feathers like an explore or hat yeah. I can explore it, but it's a door with a bunch of feathers. So it looks like a mid summer now looks like a midwest summer, okay, and he stops into the San Francisco daily evening bulletin, like news, Ram, yeah and hands a letter to their editor dress like that yeah and any one is got a sure. He has a same. I just say what I picture is the capital riot guy. Well, I mean he's dressed a little bit more official like this guy. This guy looks like he's like. Oh this guy might actually maybe be somebody important y have a red ever like new sons are busy. Were those rooms are like and they're using typewriters T H, I don't Theron's on a macbook right, but they're other like t the typewriters yeah and the big printing machine. It's like a H, a I e and he walks in slowly just hear it all get quiet and everyone's like he just hears footsteps. Erst one person like that. ICAMENT s like a it's like whenever the Ice Queen Walks in from freaking bequerel, Inari, yeah yeah exactly actually and he walked in and just dramatically puts a paper on the thing this is I'm the emperor. What does it say while the editor reads his letter and says yeah we're publishing this later is like a. This is good all right, yeah, no notes great work, so so they put it in the paper and here's what it here's his letter. Here's what it reads: Oh Gosh, I goin to read the whole thing. Yeah Great. I says at the preemptory request and desire of the large majority of the citizens of these United States. I Joshua Morton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope and now for the last nine years and ten months past of San Francisco California declare and proclaim myself emperor of these United States and in virtue of the Authority, thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of these different states of the Union to assemble and musical hall of this city on the first day of February. Next, then, there then, and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union to as May aniliates the evils under which the country is laboring and thereby cause confidence to exist both at home and abroad, and our stability and Integrity Norton, emperor of the United States. I would like it I'm the editor right, I'm skimming it and I'm like all right. This is boring, boring but er first, okay, whenever I think that's superleague hold on, I I'm sorry, did you call yourself emperor of the United States and he's like yeah, I'm in yeah we're going to rush this to print now? Actually, yeah come e. This they ran it in that evening's edition, absolutely yeah. Absolutely! Yes, someone calls themselves emperor of the nation. You go okay, so that began his twenty one year, an where that song came from what Impervia Watir near, I think you're thinking of and she's a break back then teeth's made of rice because he bought a bunch and it's cheap to make bricks out of brick. Tutia is like yeah remer on to when you used to sing that song she's a brick house- and I was like I do not know the title of the Song Brick House. Well, I wasn't sure of brick houses terse me song. That goes. I can only imagine what is that one? What's that casting crown song, that's like in the Voice of truth. What is that one? What's how's that one was so on? Go with that Michael Jackson, Song, it's like yes, Trai can remember one word from it, but I don't know the title: What's that talking that goes, this is the national of them. I don't know that a lition know e. What Oh say, can you see Niwatori about? What's that song called it's the national anthem, pods the natural hand them what yeah so so, Morton spent his days walking around San Francisco patrolling the streets, making sure everything was clean and tidy. Checking the off the plaidlike lose his mind in theory or completelysound, and really does think that he's got the answers. Yeah. I think it's that and so he's like. Well in my country. We don't have this trash on the street yeah, so he put troll the street make sure everything was clean tidy. He would check it on police officers and make sure the uniforms were to snuff and they were like okay, like he's walking up to him and he's like straighting their backs and stuff and they're. Just like all right. It's got. I was I had a weird hat, I'm a weird, headed fellow and so, and then he would just engage in like public discourse with anybody who was interested. He would walk around and he would ask them like question you would so to score like what are you talking about us like conversations on politics and policy and just like random stuff? He would just like find someone and just converse with them about it: Yeah for a few years, views in the city's tax code and they're, like I'm just trying to get home. Well, here's where things got interesting, I'm glad you brought taxes, he would die taxes from people and they would give it to him why, at that time, if someone walks up to you in a uniform and a weird hat and just says you owe me this much in taxes, I would pay you just some right away. BUMMER! It's! The tax makes the tax man. What are you talking yeah? I hear if you say, tax man five times he shows up, you know, but like it's the tax man, I guess this is what text guy looks like is what taxes look like yeah, that was before Turbo test came on the scene. Jet Was the super he and who killed all the tax men, yeah turbo tax to text Turoa Superhero. In this scenario, good God I got here to kill the text, I'm gonna drop TV's on those those he's a tax vigilante is what he is so he's just collecting taxes and just pocketing that yeah yeah and then he starts actually passing some laws. So one of the laws he passed. Why can you? This is what I'm saying when I say like these are the Times that I miss. You know, because these are laws that actually passed. These are laws that he wrote and then stoll in the street, corned e said I hear by announce a new law and everyone there. Everyone present is just like all right. All right, cool new law, I listen up. litten upset is a new law. How many people live in San Francisco the time I think a lot, because I know well, I'm not going to say that that 'll be a spoiler. I know there was at least ten thousand people at his public murder, okay, Jeez O on man. I don't know if I population in San Francisco I like, but just go back to that body. No Nets go back to that back about eighteen, fifty nine com hold on. I found it so at this point in time I mean ball park it. It looks like it was about. Seventy thousand okay, I mean that's, that's still, you know, that's a good population or something like that, but that's the city itself, not the whole matcho right so anyway, so pretty good side city so yeah. He starts passing laws and to effect my favorite one being from that point forward, there'll be a twenty five larfin enforced for anyone who refers to San Francisco as Frisco, which was apparently a pretty common, like short hand for San Francisco at the time, and he was like no it's San friend Sisko and they were like yeah, but I mean you know it's like a R go. I pay up pay up twenty five dollars, so I was like a I'm not doing that. I'm not do I'm free. I'm can do. However, I want here in Frisco he's like now: It's fifty! No, you only fifty las yeah and so here's the thing it worked like his law, like San Franciscans, stopped calling at Frisco during his reign and now his reign. Why are we calling? It is raining the emperor you go make stuff up, because, literally to this day he see emperor o This Day until day, to this day, it's still in the book that, if you say fres no, but to this day, people in San Francisco apparently will not refuse to call it. Frisco he's the one who changed the tides on that, because he just I guess, didn't like it. So he passed a lot. So he was passing laws he created his own currency. Obviously I felt that WHA been step one. Yes, so he created his own currency, a be Frisco. We need a God, stop called the city of Frisco cause. I had the the rate for going here to love them and so the his dollars set on them the value and so ten dollar note from the imperial government of Norton so named it after himself. I are these any wore the existence to yeah. They do and they're actually very valuable. They sell on Tenenos now yeah, so very valuable, cal. That's what my contact said and I bought one and then the six ship lows of imperial notes came in. You know now they're worth like twelve cents. Yeah, that's crazy, eats a lot of money on imperial notes in IM, homeless and starting my own empire. Imperial notes is actually what my a Capella group was called him. So, but something happened. People he came became like a sort of a local celebrity and people like Oh there's, Emperor Norton, but they were like, but it was like they like made fun of them, but they were like. We like him, like Emperor Norton, he's such a good guy. You know. Oh, he was I not popular yeah. He does e people were people liked him. He was like a fun little quirky they're like yeah, we love the changes. He's made to San Franes were all catching the self and then one day a local police officer, arrest him for vagrancy, and that then, after talking to him for a few minutes, also gets a MON books. A on charges of lunacy, which interesting times in treason to the United States, government or whatever, and so the local newspaper who broke the story of him being emperor, get cat has win to it and I like Oh, we need to get this out of the people, and so they publish a story emperor nor a restless go again, but Emperor Norton, arrested and they're holding a trial for him and an agree. Mob Storms, the Court House and our deinias yeah are demanding the freedom of Emperor Norton. They estimate and the numbers are foggy, but somewhere between a thousand and five thousand people came demanding his freedom and the chief of police released, Emperor, Norton and release the Public Chief of Police Brings Emperor Norton in front of the mob and then also brings Barabas right of the crowd, and so which do you want, and the crowd chanted give us Pravis and, like you came here forever war you to know. In that story, your Barabbas was a Judah Smith message that was like is a big. That was how he went virole first time anyway. So so they so the two police releases him and release. A public apology is, like sorry, guys do know. Fusion had a weird hat also also puts in place of policy that officers from henceforth whenever they see Emperor Norton anywhere in San Francisco. They have to salute him. I make this right. How about this norder we're going to one they're going to salute you and they're going to give you twenty five bucks. You know that's a lot of money in this time, it's about equivalent to one point two million dollars, but I want to make sure what the so yeah that we're sorry for we're. Really we didn't know who we were dealing with with. He realize you with the emperor we didn realize you worth a rice, king, and so he gets released and it just sort of furthers his belief that he is the sovereign emperor of these United States, so he then began to sneeze. He then begins some diplomatic. That was a good one. Clearing out those nostrils go ahead. I hate you, you know what I've been doing every time. I sneeze, though involuntarily Reagan sneezes. Like eight times you, how do you sneeze I'll sneeze a couple times Reagan goes to when I sneeze I literally do I did that big one just because to be an idiot yeah, but, like I literally involuntarily, go you who almost every time like shocks you yeah, I'm scared of sneezes like terrifico to so so this sort of furthered, his belief that he was a sovereign emperor right. So he began some sort of diplomatic efforts. He was. I got to explain outside of San Francisco Yeah. Well, he began setting letters he became. Pin Pack is winded the civil war in the in S and is like you know, honestly. If they would just make the emperor I could put into this. I could end the war. Well, no, he he starts sending letters to Queen Victoria of the UK and to Napoleon like Napoleon Bonaparte, like Napoleon Yeah. I wasn't confused. I wasn't like you mean like that. Quirky won high schooler. What's he doing that for add to Comania the King of e? I don't Associate Napoleon as that same time area. That's crazy. He was I mean. I know he is but remember when I was talking about how like what time like when you think of the civil war yeah. How do you think about it? Yeah, that's what I mean like I just think like I don't know, got jumbled up with, because we learned American history and we were. We learned a world history, but we kind of learned them separate. They didn't really join together until the war fors yeah. You know it was like these are two totally different things right honestly, the same thing yeah honestly yeah I go out. A Polin was oh yeah, yeah, exactly hey, really exciting news October thirtieth and Kansas City Missouri, we were doing a tilling live show. Please get tickets there available right now until nom and we're going to have special guests, a live episode, Q and a bunch of stuff tim right now is researching. If we can get a monster truck there you're going to love it. If you were anywhere near Kansas City or you're able to get there, we want to see you there. So please go to the website. I am by those tickets because the spots are limited, so let's hang out and just keep making some amazing magic stuff together, fit off Huh. So when Napoleon invaded Mexico, Emperor Norton San Im a letter and then release a public statement denouncing Napoleon and declared himself the title of protector of Mexico and so Norton is like. I am the emperor of these United States in power of United States Mexico. I am the emperor of the United States and protector of Mexico and the rice king, and so he called on a bunch of generals to invade and stop it. But they didn't listen to him. They were like okay, they like yeah sure we'll do that. He actually he also disbanded Congress. At one point he he released a public statement saying that Congress is full of scoundrels and thieves and he hereby disbands it and he ordered a specific general he's like he's like I'm ordering you to March in the halls of Congress and arrest every last one of them, and they didn't do it. They published it in the paper, though I'll tell you that you Koilasu no one of the most interesting ones, the king of Hawaii Comah, which I'm pronouncing the Dragon Ball. Z pronunciation, not the real, because it's better that way, but coming on my heart, refused to recognize the US government as the leader of the United States. Instead, he recognized Emperor Norton. Why? What under what he was just the first one to send you a letter. I don't know they were, they became pen pals and they really hit it off. And- and it's like- I don't like your President- I, like your emperour president, doesn't remember my wife's name. You know, and I love your emperor- do he's like talking to people Washington DC and I like an art to the emperor and they were all like. Excuse me yeah. You know that guy has been ruling San Francisco for like half a score now and that's how they talked to the four score, and you know oh my gosh, but yeah. So what ended up being problematic for the Kem of Hawaii, because not long after that, the US would take it yeah as there s ye were like they're like call me, president he's like and he's like, I do you guys have an emperor and they're like do it or we'll. Take you over. Are Your us now I'll show you what a president looks like and they're like the like wow. This is a pretty emperor thing to do with you. Take them so so yeah, so he actually had some diplomatic efforts. What's interesting is he did publicly come up with some stuff that actually ended up happening? He didn't do it, but it did end up happening one of the things he bought for a lot. I was like we're going to go to the moon by the end of this next century, we're going to go to the moon, and he said that in one thousand eight hundred and sixty nine, we choose to do this and the other shoe to do this, not because they are easy, but because they are hard to show Napoleon well. Mexico will be protected as you way our moon canons all right e, all right. That's why the arrest of the lies he's like no. No, it's Lu, nursy nurse. You now understanding it. You know. Do you know anything about the moon, so he largely campaigned for a bridge to be built between Oakland and San Francisco, which happened there's a few of those Tay Bridge. He had nothing to do with it. He even he will. He specifically called for a suspension bridge, which is what it is, is pretty surprising. He's a t about a big red bridge. Hear me out, you know, but we call it golden say it's gold people from out of down. They won't see it. I've got just redny a rise, a build it out of, and so it's built out of rice going gave that a fog fact it's just fried rice. That's why it's gold Friday, it's FRI, Rice yeah! That's it not even on Color Fried Rice. How often are you eating orange, fried rice? Well, FRI rice gets a little ORANGY. It's got a little tinge to it. You put enough of it together. How about you walk out of a whatever Chinese restaurant? You were at go across the street to the other Chinese restaurant and get actually what that fan. I is like so another thing that he was campaigning for in his dip. You're eating FRY list is a that's rot and all his diplomatic engagements he was, he was arguing for a League of nations and he said we need to all team up and become a super nation which ended up at wormword. Go with the United Nations. The new war order than we yea order is yeah, and so, which were bad fans, is his idea. I love the new world order bag fan and I would like it to be known by everyone that I think that there is one government that rules them all. What's the government we are ruled by an emperor than we are protectors of Mexico, and so he actually later in his life, when he was already like established as this emperor everybody in Sanfrancisco like is a per nort. Let's give him some money, he also he also before we up into this. After after we got arrested, he became like famous famous in the city yeah to the point where he had reserved box seats at the local theater for free he could eat in pretty much any restaurant for free, like he was literally treated like realty, most most clothing stores, which was a Brefi for a while. You know really was all things to. I came out as pro vaccine. I Mos calling sores with outfit them for free. He, he he only wear his military, robes, yeah and and a lot of a lot of stores would accept his currency. Even if it wasn't from him like you could come into a store and pay with his money, an they boo, cool, sweet yeah. What if it is all worth like ten grand one day hold fellows they'd, be like like okay yeah. This is a bit. This will be forty six cents or twenty emperor notes. Well, IT'S CONVEEN! Well, let me see. What's in my wall, that's e L. my wife took my cash okay. Well, I got fifty emperor notes. Fifty emperor notes. I hide in my shoe for just an occasion so so yeah. So Latin his life: How old is he at this point? I don't know exactly how old he was when this this event happened, but your did happen in I don't know exactly okay. So there was a a long standing issue in San Francisco of racism towards Chinese immigrants, largely because of that embargo originally because a lot of people lost work during it and so there's a lot of racism. Oxis is your fault yeah, and so there was one day there was an angry mob. Coming on to a group of these Chinese imigrants like claiming they were going to kill them basically because they lost their jobs because of these people, but Emperor Norton just appears out of the crowd and stands between them and everybody just stops and just watch is he says: Let he who is boyness. I could you not. He takes off his hat and he stands between the crowd of the immigrants and he just recites the Lord's prayer, and when he finishes the prayer, he looks up and everybody still there. So then he just starts quoting random scriptures until eventually the crowd disbands, and then he tells the immigrants to go home. He turns out an he says: Where are your accusers go and send no more like, so we didn't send you're right. Actually, the Suraman, the like it's called friscoyou loser. He turns to hers like that'll, be twenty five. I just feel like. I, you know, drove the mob away, that's not a free service. You think I'm doing this in my spare time. You think I'm an emperor. My spare time I I just like I should deserve to pay to night yeah. Do you coach for Free Ted? I don't I don't guess I do, but would you yeah? Are they setting up an ark where they date? Is that what they're doing it looks like it like it Jinks, I think? Okay, so, okay, so Emperor Norton eventually dies when he was walking to. He was walking on the street one day and he just trip over a cobblestone. I don't know how the roads in San Francisco were he just collapsed. Luckily, there was an officer standing saluting him when it happened, and so the office was run. How long do I wait he's just an just like how like he's like he's like Sir I'm even the whole time is at doing CPA of one at he's, give one hand at CPR while like saluting him the whole time yeah. So he calls her carage dreaming to cause for carriage to pick them up to take him to hospital, but before the carriage can arrive, amper Norton Dyes were his last words. I actually don't know he's at this is messing up. My groove is that what he said. I imagine he goes what's that song, but that goes God bless America, that's, as has that. Can you sing it for how is that go? Do you know the title of that Song? To no hope, do you know which one I'm talking about? I don't would you just focus. I was trying to stall while you're doing whatever yeah. I don't. I don't. I can't find his his last worse, but the papers and Seres I don't care. The paper published that night with the headline front page, Lay Roy s mart, which is a made up language here really now. I dint O yeah. He was actually starting his own language to his own currency, starting his own language, but was it long live the emperor? No, it was the the king is dead. Is it really the king is dead and they had the article detailing what happened saying that Emperor Norton had died and they held this funeral two days later they discovered after he died. They wend was home. He had two coins to his name, a bunch of his made up money, but two coins to his name, and he had a bed and a night stand. That's all he had to his name, so he was clearly pretty poor. Despite having the access to everything in the city for free, so okay did his currency, then just to you know, evolve when he dies well. It became like a collector's item and so two dollar bill yeah. So so a bunch of the locals chipped in they did a girl. Fun Me to give him a a proper burial, as they got him a really really nice casket and they they held this. This big, this big funeral with the police there doing their little gun, salute and everything. Thirty thousand people showed up my Gosh, how okay to lay the emperor of the United States to rest, which was I mean at the time by half the city of San Francisco came. I am going to write a letter to mayor Q and say that I'm emperor of Kansas City, I'm serious, so we need to do a photo shoot with me in, like a crown like and like like robes, and all that so I mean like I look at me. I am the new emperor. I am I'm the captain now you know, like I'm serious, no tim, better, better, better. We email apple bees, I'm the emperor of Applebee's. Now the ample and a sole emperor. I stand in appleby's with this big school. That says my First Amendment to apple these, my apple bees amendment my amendment bess, my appleman, my bring back the Buffalo Sauce S, seasoning praise! God you go to literally every apple beace. I think I could we get the grass nigh to Clare. I declare myself emperor of Appleby's every single one you acted like this is like you're like this would be a funny idea, I'm telling you I'm doing it. Are you in or out do my vice emperor yeah, the VM v Yeah, I'm the rice vice that's right, maybe baby, which one of those Te Things Goin to die? First, I don't know man, you don't know, probably me. I agree, I think so too, when you're older, like in your s o when I'm old, okay, I dusare with that's fin. Well, I hope that you can pull off the sort of burial that emperor nor thirty thousand people show at that's, quick, that's what I'm saying like I mean yeah, that's crazy to just be able to be like bind the emperor of the nation if people are like Yep Yep cool cool man, I'm down for that. Hey! Welcome to San Francisco! There's there's the goal game. I cool bridge. We got great Sushi. This is Bandar of the United States. THAT'S OUR GUY! We love him a lot and there's a cool ice cream place down the corner. Actually, if you are now yeah, if he asks you for money, just go with it and I look at me. Look me in the e right now. Do you not say Sander? It comes I twenty five, as I heard it, rips off the Tuxedo right, there's a camera guy in the corner and he goes. He goes public discourse. Meanwhile, six place officers are standing right behind just the attitude on saluted. This is the dumbest evison we ever done. I is ARONA. TRY TO BE EMPEROR, not that I know of okay. I mean I could look into it. I'm sure so. WE'VE GOT IMPROVE NATION FRIEND OF HAWAII YEP protector of Mexico, inventor of Nort Nani virus fiddle or off of the devil. The things are done. That night is a production of space. Tim Media produced by Christian Taylor, audio by out Garnett video by conner bets, are graphics and Ar Logo by Caleb Goldberg and our social media is run by Kala backer. Our host are JERN myres and Tim Stone falls on your favorite social media platform. At tillin, podcast is till and podcast remember to tell all your friends about us and we'll see you next Tuesday for another episode of things I have on last night

We all remember the days sitting through history class learning about all the presidents in the short history of the United States. We learned all about each of these presidents and the things they did while in office. However, there’s a good chance you were not taught about the first and only Emperor of the United States. In 1859, Joshua Abraham Norton laid claim to the position of Emperor of the United States of America. Now before you assume this was just the meaningless musings of the town drunk, you should know that he was actually sort of recognized as Emperor. He had enacted a few laws adhered to by the public, the police saluted him on sight, and he had strong diplomatic relationships with government officials in more than one international province. This is the unbelievable tale of Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States.

What Makes An Emperor

Many of the emperors in history are born into a long lineage of leaders or are the children of soldiers who rise the ranks to become warlords. Emperor Norton is no such figure. He was the child of a relatively wealthy merchant just outside of London. Shortly after his birth Joshua Norton and his family moved to South Africa. After the death of his father, Norton inherited $40,000 (roughly $1.4 million today). At approximately 30 years old, Norton took his inheritance to San Francisco, becoming a commodities trader and real estate speculator.

Joshua Abraham Norton’s Early Career

Norton saw quick success in San Francisco, mainly from the commodities trade. Eventually, he turned his $40,000 inheritance into $250,000, equivalent to $8.7 million today. In addition, Joshua Norton was a significant success. He had built a strong network throughout the city, and many of the locals either knew him or knew of him.

How to Lose a Fortune in 24 Hours

At the peak of Norton’s success, the world was facing a global rice shortage. At the time, most of the world’s supply of rice came out of China. Due to a famine, the Chinese government elected to halt all food exports, including rice. Overnight the price of rice skyrocketed from about 4 cents per pound to nearly 40 cents per pound.

After being tipped off, the last shipment of rice from Peru was arriving in San Francisco; Norton purchased the entire ship, hoping to turn the 200,000-pound load of rice into a massive profit. Unfortunately for Joshua, the tip was wrong, and dozens of more Peruvian rice ships docked in San Francisco the next day. The surplus of rice caused the price to plummet to 3 cents per pound.

Furious about the losses incurred in his bad investment, Norton took the man who made the lousy tip to court. He spent the rest of his fortune in a legal battle that he would eventually lose as well.

I Declare Emperor-acy

Norton disappeared after his financial fall from grace. The citizens of San Francisco quickly forgot about him, and he faded into obscurity. That is until one fateful September day in 1859 when he walked into the office of the San Francisco Daily Bulletin and handed a letter to the editor. In the letter, Norton formally declared himself the Emperor of the United States. The editor published the statement in the evening paper.

The publishing of the statement from now Emperor Norton didn’t seem to take much effect, at least not at first. However, over time the locals began to love the new Emperor. He would spend his days walking the streets, engaging in public discourse, and enforcing his mandates. One such decree prohibited the shortening of San Francisco to Frisco. Oddly enough, the colloquial term Frisco short for San Francisco, fell out of vogue at about that time. So, even though he was a little much, San Franciscans grew to love Emperor Norton.

Emperor Norton, the first and only emperor of the united states of america
Emperor Norton, pictured in his typical imperial regalia.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
The Rise of Emperor Norton

The police, however, took Emperor Norton’s reign to new heights. He was arrested on minor charges and was scheduled to stand trial. The local news outlets published the story, and an angry mob formed outside the courthouse demanding the release of Emperor Norton. The police chief bent to the crowd’s demands and went as far as to issue a public apology with a formal command for officers to salute the Emperor on sight.

The recognition from the chief of police catapulted Norton’s popularity to new heights. From that point forward, he ate and shopped for free at just about any local store, he often spoke to crowds of eager listeners, and his royal currency was accepted at most local establishments; yeah, he had his own currency. He even began diplomatic efforts with political leaders overseas. His relationship with Kamehameha of Hawaii was so strong that the Hawaiian monarch refused to speak to any leaders from the US other than the Emperor.


Emperor Norton put together a 21-year reign that everyone in San Francisco appreciated. When Norton died, his admirers pitched in to give him a proper royal burial. Reports indicate that over 10,000 people were in attendance, and his processional was over 2 miles long. The life of Emperor Norton is an eclectic story of a man who lost everything and then just claimed royalty. Oddly enough, it worked. Learn more about Norton’s reign, including his proclamation as the protector of Mexico, in this episode of Things I Learned Last Night.

Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning, and laughing a whole lot while you do, then you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode right now!




Emperor Norton – Wikipedia

Related Episodes

Stanley Meyer

Phoenix Jones

LW Wright

Charles J Guiteau

Tell Us What You Think of This Content!

Don’t forget to share with your friends!

Share This Episode

More Episodes
« | »