Emperor Norton I
On September 17, 1859, Joshua A. Norton declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.
He was mocked and ridiculed with lavish public displays of respect. His pronouncements were published in the local newspapers, his food and clothing supplied by local merchants without charge. His currency was traded at equal to the American dollar.
Emperor Norton I once stopped a riot by standing before the target of the crowd's anger (a lad of Chinese heritage) and reciting the Lord's Prayer.
Before becoming Emperor, Joshua Norton was a business man. A failed venture involving a shipment of rice from the Orient destroyed his life's savings.
Most people thought he was simply mad.
But there's no such thing as simple madness.