17 September 2007
International "Declare Yourself Emperor" Day!
Today, in 1859, Joshua Norton declared himself Emperor Norton I of the United States. And although many considered him delusional, he nonetheless had the good sense to make this proclamation in San Francisco - a city that humored him for the rest of his life. He issued imperial bonds with which he paid expenses and his fellow San Franciscans both accepted these bonds and bowed and curtseyed when he passed by. He held audience with city officials and, to show his fairness, he attended a different church service each Sunday (before establishing a universal church that encompassed all religions at the same time that he announced the dissolution of the Republican and Democratic Parties). Mark Twain lived in San Francisco during Norton's reign and based a character on him in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. His most famous order was that the U.S. Congress should be dissolved (an order sadly ignored by the U.S. military and Congress alike). The day after he died, 30,000 people came out into the streets of San Francisco to pay homage to the emperor.
In the spirit of the day, I'm declaring myself Emperor and would encourage you to do the same. Now you'll have to excuse me. I'm off to the mall to find a pair of epaulets.
Read more about Norton:
Article by Tony Leather