Topic: United States/American Old West
Joshua Abraham Norton (February 4, 1818 – January 8, 1880), known as Emperor Norton, was a citizen of San Francisco, California, who proclaimed himself "Norton I, Emperor of the United States" in 1859. In 1863 he took the secondary title of "Protector of Mexico" after Napoleon III invaded that country. Norton was born in England but spent most of his early life in South Africa. He sailed west after the death of his mother in 1846 and his father in 1848, arriving in San Francisco possibly in November 1849.
Norton initially made a living as a businessman, but he lost his fortune investing in Peruvian rice to sell in China due to a Chinese rice shortage. He bought rice at 12 cents per pound from Peruvian ships, but more Peruvian ships arrived in port which caused the price to drop sharply to 4 cents. He then lost a lawsuit in which he tried to void his rice contract, and his public prominence faded. He re-emerged in September 1859, laying claim to the position of Emperor of the United States. Though Norton received many favors from the city, merchants also capitalized on his notoriety by selling souvenirs bearing his name. "San Francisco lived off the Emperor Norton," Norton's biographer William Drury wrote, "not Norton off San Francisco."
Norton had no formal political power; nevertheless, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments that he frequented. Some considered him insane or eccentric, but citizens of San Francisco celebrated his imperial presence and his proclamations, such as his order that the United States Congress be dissolved by force and his numerous decrees calling for the construction of a bridge and tunnel crossing San Francisco Bay to connect San Francisco with Oakland.
On January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed at the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant) streets and died before he could be given medical treatment. Upwards of 30,000 people lined the streets of San Francisco to pay him homage at his funeral. Norton has been immortalized as the basis of characters in the literature of Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Moore, Morris and René Goscinny, Selma Lagerlöf, and Neil Gaiman.
The United States Camel Corps was a mid-19th-century experiment by the United States Army in using camels as pack animals in the Southwestern United States. While the camels proved to be hardy and well suited to travel through the region, the Army declined to adopt them for military use. The Civil War interfered with the experiment and it was eventually abandoned; the animals were sold at auction.
- "United States Camel Corps" | 2017-08-16 | 70 Upvotes 19 Comments
Pinkerton is a private security guard and detective agency established around 1850 in the United States by Scottish-born American cooper Allan Pinkerton and Chicago attorney Edward Rucker as the North-Western Police Agency, which later became Pinkerton & Co, and finally the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. It is currently a subsidiary of Swedish-based Securitas AB. Pinkerton became famous when he claimed to have foiled the Baltimore Plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in 1861. Lincoln later hired Pinkerton agents to conduct espionage against the Confederacy and act as his personal security during the American Civil War.
The Pinkerton National Detective Agency hired women and minorities from its founding because they were useful as spies, a practice uncommon at the time. At the height of their power, the Pinkerton Detective Agency was the largest private law enforcement organization in the world.
Following the Civil War, the Pinkertons began conducting operations against organized labor. During the labor strikes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, businesses hired the Pinkerton Agency to infiltrate unions, supply guards, keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories, and recruit goon squads to intimidate workers. During the Homestead Strike of 1892, Pinkerton agents were called in to reinforce the strikebreaking measures of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who was acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie, the head of Carnegie Steel. Tensions between the workers and strikebreakers erupted into violence which led to the deaths of three Pinkerton agents and nine steelworkers. During the late nineteenth century, the Pinkertons were also hired as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Pinkertons were also involved in other strikes such as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.
During the 20th century, Pinkerton rebranded itself into a personal security and risk management firm. The company has continued to exist in various forms through to the present day, and is now a division of the Swedish security company Securitas AB, operating as "Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, Inc. d.b.a. Pinkerton Corporate Risk Management". The former Government Services division, PGS, now operates as "Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services, Inc.".
- "Pinkerton (Detective Agency)" | 2023-04-27 | 24 Upvotes 13 Comments