Chivalrous Acts
of which there were a plenty

 In October 1878 Joshua Norton-1 put His royal imprimatur upon a petition to amend California's Constitution to grant women the vote. That was 12 years before Wyoming became the first state to enact suffrage.

According to Herbert Asbury in The Barbary Coast (1933), His Highness is said to be the source of the expression "Queen for a Day." [San Francisco? How prophetic!] He often bestowed royal titles of varying durations upon His citizens. It was the Emperor's way of thanking those who'd done Him a courtesy or of lifting a total stranger's sprits if it seemed the person was having a particularly bad hair day.

Should one wonder how He knew someone He didn't know was suffering a rough patch, it was because He talked to everyone. Anyone could talk to him. All chroniclers agree He walked San Francisco's streets as a daily office, availing His presence broadly. His may have been the world's most accessible government--if transparent to the point of insubstantial.

We see this as well in his 23 December 1875 Proclamation in which he order the people of San Francisco to show courtesy to strangers. That is, to say "Hey!" to the new sailors in town who'd arrived on a Japanese Navy ship. The decree illustrates two aspects of Norton-1's laudable character:

   1) strangers could rely upon His kindness with the state's money. [On April 21st of that year He Proclaimed that
         the state treasurer should provide emigrants with sufficient money to get settled.]
2) He acted against the time's prevailing anti-Asian sentiment.

It's unlikely violent bigots of the era distinguished between Japanese and Chinese Americans; but Denise Kearney made political Roman holiday of the Chinese citizenry. "Sandlot politics" originates from his racist rabblerousing. Rightfully, the Emperor opposed Kearneyism.

Oral history has it that on one occasion a mob set out to attack Chinese residents when His Highness was nearby. On that day Norton-1 proved not only to be Protector of Mexico, but Guardian of Chinatown. It is said He placed himself between the rabble and the ethnic community and stared the louts down. Some say He recited the Lord's Prayer to diffuse the riot. It was a heroic act however He did it.

Political Cartoon circa era Norton.
One might compare Joshua Norton to Martin Luther King Jr. for His era--which is not a hyped comparison. The Sovereign condemned the hanging of John Brown for the abolitionist insurrection at Harpers Ferry. Interestingly, the Emperor deemed Brown a "General" in His December 1859 pronouncement. One might infer that this implies His Highness viewed Brown's Raid as not entirely lawless, at least in cause. It takes no speculation to interpret this part of the edict, however, "...Brown was insane and ... ought to have been sent to the Insane Asylum..."--not hung.
[We of do not execute the insane in Our Empire.]

Norton decreed against America's violence toward Indians, too. The U.S. Army was attacking Sitting Bull and the Sioux Nation. The Emperor ordered the army to back off and let the Native Americans withdraw to San Francisco while urging Sitting Bull to realize he faced death "sooner or later" if he didn't surrender to His Imperial protection. Well, we all know how that turned out later on, don't we? If only leaders would listen.

More noble history to follow. Yahl surf back now, yahear?