Emperor of the United States?
August 23, 2010
At the peremptory 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 past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U.S. and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in the Musical Hall of this city on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence ot exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.
Emperor of the United States.
Thus began Joshua Abraham Norton's reign as Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.
Joshua Norton was a Briton who grew up in Cape Town, and was sent by his father to start a business in San Francisco in 1849. He began Joshua Norton and Company, General Merchants. Apparently he did not have a head for business. His company failed. He sold goods for other companies, but did not succeed in those ventures either. Whether it was the loss of his life’s work or if it was always there, Joshua Norton’s insanity brought itself to the forefront. He ventured into madness when he sent this proclamation to the Bulletin. They published all of Emperor Norton’s proclamations, including one that abolished Congress.
To learn more about this interesting man, check out our Online Databases. At Ancestry Library Edition (in library use only) you can find the 1870 census in which Joshua Norton’s occupation is listed as Emperor. In our biography databases you can find out more of Joshua Norton’s fascinating tale.
Jennifer B. North Oak