May 5th, 2007 by Hafiz Noor Shams
I am off to somewhere but before that, I wish to share the wonder of Wikipedia. Presenting to you, Joshua, Abraham Norton, the emperor of the United States of America:
Joshua Abraham Norton (c. 1819 – January 8, 1880), also known as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco, California who, in 1859, proclaimed himself “Emperor of these United States” and later “Protector of Mexico”. Born of Jewish origin in London, England, Norton spent most of his early life in South Africa, and emigrated to San Francisco in 1849 after receiving a bequest from his father’s estate. Norton initially made a living as a businessman, but he lost his fortune in a business transaction involving Peruvian rice. After losing a lawsuit in which he tried to void his business contract, Norton left San Francisco and apparently lost his mental balance. He returned a few years later as an eccentric man, claiming to be the self-appointed emperor of the United States. Although he had no political power, and his influence extended only so far as he was humored by those around him, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments he frequented. Norton also proposed marriage to Queen Victoria, and he was referred to as His Imperial Majesty by local citizens and in the newspaper obituaries announcing his death.
Though he was considered insane, or at least highly eccentric, the citizens of San Francisco celebrated his presence, his humor, and his deeds—among the most notorious being his “order” that the United States Congress be dissolved by force (which Congress and the U.S. Army ignored), and his numerous (some claim prophetic) decrees calling for a bridge and a tunnel to be built across San Francisco Bay. [Joshua A. Norton. Wikipedia. 3 May 2007]