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
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Highlights from the Emperor's reign ...
||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]
Came to San Francisco from South Africa with $40,000
Lost the considerable fortune he had built up in real-estate speculation by trying to corner the rice market in San Francisco
September 17 - Issued the first of his now famous proclamations by proclaiming himself the Emperor of the United States
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
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).
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.
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:
||grave was moved to Colma Cemetery on June
30th. Location: Map
Articles About the Emperor
Joshua Abraham Norton (1819-1880) - a proper Bibliography worthy of the Emperor
- contains references to books, magazines,
An Emperor Norton Bibliography at
||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 ...
- The King in Mark Twain's
Huckleberry Finn is reportedly modeled from the character of Norton I.
Also mentioned in The Barbary Coast by Herbert Asbury and
The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Principia Discordia - CABAL -
Surrealists, Harlequinists, Absurdists and Zonked Artists Melee
- San Francisco Cacophony Society - a patron saint
- Saints Second Class being Saints who, by
their existence, are ineligible for higher
levels of Sainthood, which are reserved for
nonexistent saints.Discordian Saints
- Emperor Norton is the subject of the story
_Sandman: Three Septembers and a January_,
by Neil Gaiman. Historical fact in this story
comes from Herbert Asbury's _The Barbary Coast_ and William Drury's _Norton I, Emperor of the United States_. It was inspired by Catherine Caufield's
The Emperor of the United States of America
and Other Magnificent British Eccentrics. - The Annotated Sandman
This Emperor Norton's Ring site
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