At the pre-emptory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last nine years and ten months past of San Fransisco, California, declare and proclaim myself the Emperor of These United States. - September 17, 1859

To Sign or View the Emperor Norton Guestbook

Highlights from the Emperor's reign ...
1819 born in London, England on February 14 to John and Sarah Norton [John and Sarah married at Epping Essex u.k. June 30, 1793 and immigrated to s.africa in 1820.had two sons--Philip and Joshua - Source: Jos Driver, a decendent of Philip Norton]
1849 Came to San Francisco from South Africa with $40,000
1854 Lost the considerable fortune he had built up in real-estate speculation by trying to corner the rice market in San Francisco
1859 September 17 - Issued the first of his now famous proclamations by proclaiming himself the Emperor of the United States
Proclamations He continued to make proclamations throughout his reign. These included commanding that the Golden Gate bridge be built and one about the name of the city, "Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abdominal word 'Frisco,' which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor." Penalty for noncompliance was $25. Newspapers of the day printed his proclamations (and even made some up which were not from Norton!)

Many of the “decrees” attributed to Norton I were fakes; written in jest by newspaper editors at the time for amusement, or for political purposes. Those “decrees” listed here were, we believe, actually issued by Norton. --sfmuseum.

Norton Notes
An Exhibit of the Emperor's notes - In order to pay his bills he issued paper notes, mostly in 50 cent denominations but some $5 and $10 notes exist. Today they are worth far more than the face value (if they can be found).
Politics In 1869 he abolished both the Democratic and Republican parties, declaring "Being desirous of allaying the dissension's of party strife now existing within our realm, [I] do hereby dissolve and abolish the Democratic and Republican parties, and also do hereby degree the disfranchisement and imprisonment, for not more than ten, nor less than five years, to all persons leading to any violation of this our imperial decree." --San Francisco Herald, August 4, 1869

Another time he called upon the other leaders of the world to join him in forming a League of Nations where disputes between nations could be resolved peacefully.

1880 Died January 8, on California St. On January 10, he was buried in the Masonic Cemetery. The funeral cortege was two miles long - Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were reported to have attended. See: Le Roi Est Mort

Who Was Emperor Norton? ... some of the messages taken from his pockets at the Morgue:
1934 grave was moved to Colma Cemetery on June 30th. Location: Map
Articles About the Emperor
Bibliography Joshua Abraham Norton (1819-1880) - a proper Bibliography worthy of the Emperor - contains references to books, magazines, newspapers
An Emperor Norton Bibliography at Spiritual Matters
Archives Emperor Norton's Archives

During his daily patrol of the streets of San Francisco Norton made certain that all sidewalks were unobstructed. He reviewed the police to see that they were on duty. He checked on the progress of needed street repairs, inspected buildings under construction, and in general saw to it that all office city's ordinances were enforced.

"During one of the typical anti-Chinese demonstrations so common at the time, the emperor gave the local populace a lesson in the practical application of civics - and prayer. Sensing the dangerously heated tone of one particular meeting, Norton is reported to have stood up before the group, bowed his head and begun reciting the Lord's Prayer. within a few minutes the agitators retreated in shame without putting any of their threats into cruel action." (Source: temporarily unavailable. )

References to Emperor Norton ...

Emperor Norton's Ring
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Emperor Norton's Palace Registry

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Update: 28-Jun-99

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