The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

TO HONOR THE LIFE + ADVANCE THE LEGACY OF EMPEROR NORTON

RESEARCH • EDUCATION • ADVOCACY

Filtering by Tag: 1870

Emperor Norton on the Front Row of the Fight for Ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment Removing Race as a Barrier to Voting

In February 1869, the U.S. Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment, which would have the effect of extending the right to vote in the United States to all men of color.

Ten months later — as ratification was making its way through the states, and with California still in the balance — a respected African-American editor and activist named Peter Anderson gave a lecture in favor of the Amendment at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, on Stockton Street in San Francisco.

Emperor Norton showed up, took a seat down front and was “an attentive listener,” according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The Amendment was ratified in February 1870 — no thanks to California, where the legislature rejected the Amendment against a backdrop of anti-Chinese racism in the state. But, Anderson — the editor of the African-American-owned and -operated Pacific Appeal newspaper — may have remembered Emperor Norton’s solidarity when, late that year, he took on the Emperor as a regular contributor to his pages.

Over the next four-and-a-half years, Anderson would publish — almost always on the front page — some 250 of Emperor Norton’s proclamations, including those insisting on the rights of African-Americans to attend public schools and ride public streetcars.

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Emperor Norton Addressed the European Trade Crisis of 1870 With an Offer of Imperial Bonds

In October 1870, the Franco-Prussian War was headed into its fourth month. Emperor Norton was angry about the bloodshed and appealed both to Wilhelm, the future German emperor, and Bismarck to stop the fighting. The Emperor also was concerned about the war’s negative impacts on European trade. He stepped into this particular breach with a concrete solution.

To help illustrate what he had in mind, the Emperor sent an influential German publisher in Leipzig one of his new imperial notes, signed and made out to the publisher.

Presented here is evidence that the note reached its destination. If this note survives, it would be the oldest one in existence.

It’s a fascinating story.

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