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Emperor Norton

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Joshua Abraham Norton
Norton, c. 1871–72
Born(1818-02-04)February 4, 1818
Deptford, England
DiedJanuary 8, 1880(1880-01-08) (aged 61)
Resting placeWoodlawn Memorial Park, Colma, California
Known foreccentricity, facetious claims of royalty

Joshua Abraham Norton (February 4, 1818 – January 8, 1880) was a resident of San Francisco, California, who in 1859 proclaimed himself "Norton I., Emperor of the United States", commonly known as Emperor Norton. In 1863, after Napoleon III invaded Mexico, he took the secondary title of "Protector of Mexico".

For the first few years after arriving in San Francisco in 1849, Norton made a successful living as a commodities trader and real estate speculator. However, he was financially ruined following a failed bid to corner the rice market during a shortage prompted by a famine in China. He bought a shipload of Peruvian rice at 12 cents per pound (26 ¢/kg), but more Peruvian ships arrived in port, causing the price to drop sharply to three cents per pound (6.6 ¢/kg). He then lost a protracted lawsuit in which he tried to void his rice contract, and his local prominence faded.

In September 1859, he proclaimed himself "Emperor of the United States". Norton had no formal political power, but was treated deferentially in San Francisco nevertheless, and currency issued in his name was honored in some of the establishments he frequented. Some considered Norton to be insane or eccentric, but residents of San Francisco and the city's larger Northern California orbit enjoyed his imperial presence and took note of his frequent newspaper proclamations. Though Norton received free ferry and train passage and a variety of favors, such as help with rent and free meals, from well-placed friends and sympathizers, the city's merchants also capitalized on his notoriety by selling souvenirs bearing his image.

On January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed and died before he could be given medical treatment. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, upwards of 10,000 people lined the streets of San Francisco to pay him homage at his funeral. Norton has been immortalized as the basis of characters in the literature of Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Moore, Morris, René Goscinny, Selma Lagerlöf, Neil Gaiman, Mircea Cărtărescu and Charles Bukowski.

Early life[edit]

Norton's parents were John Norton (1794-1848) and Sarah Nordon (1796-1846), who were English Jews. John was a farmer and merchant, and Sarah was a daughter of Abraham Norden and a sister of Benjamin Norden, a successful merchant. The family moved to South Africa in early 1820 as part of a government-backed colonial scheme whose participants came to be known as the 1820 Settlers.[1][2][3] Most likely, Norton was born in the Kentish town of Deptford, today part of London.[2][4]

The best available evidence points to February 4, 1818, as the date of Norton's birth. Obituaries published in 1880, following Norton's death, offered conflicting information about his date of birth. The second of two obituaries in the San Francisco Chronicle, "following the best information obtainable," cited the silver plate on his coffin which said he was "aged about 65",[5] suggesting that 1815 could be the year of his birth. However, Norton's biographer, William Drury, points out that "about 65" was based solely on the guess that Norton's landlady offered to the coroner at the inquest following his death.[6] In a 1923 essay published by the California Historical Society, Robert Ernest Cowan claimed that Norton was born on February 4, 1819.[7] However, the passenger lists for the La Belle Alliance, the ship that carried Norton and his family from England to South Africa, list him as having been two years old when the ship set sail in February 1820.[8][9] This information appears not to have been known until after 1934, the year that Norton's headstone was placed at his grave in Colma, California — when Cowan's account remained prominent. This may help to explain why those who had the stone made used 1819 as the birth year.

The February 4, 1865, edition of The Daily Alta California newspaper included an item in which the Alta wished Emperor Norton a happy 47th birthday, indicating that his birth date was February 4, 1818 (not 1819, as Cowan claimed)—a date that would line up with La Belle Alliances passenger list from 2 years later.[10][11][12] Moreover, when Cowan quoted the 1865 Alta item in his essay, he used an altered version in an apparent attempt to advance his claim of an 1819 birth date.[12] Persistent claims for an 1819 birth date are of doubtful provenance, tracing to unsubstantiated assertions made online, during the early years of the internet.[13] The Emperor Norton Trust, a nonprofit organization that engages in Norton research and education, produced a 2018 bicentennial series, Emperor Norton at 200, that took as its starting point a February 4, 1818, birth date for Norton. Supporting and participating in the series were a number of institutions that long have helped to preserve the historical record of Emperor Norton: the California Historical Society, the San Francisco Public Library, the Mechanics' Institute and the Society of California Pioneers.[14]

There are often-repeated historical claims that Joshua Norton arrived in San Francisco on a specific vessel, the Franzeska, on November 23, 1849; that he arrived with $40,000, in whole or in part a bequest from his father's estate; and that he parlayed this into a fortune of $250,000 ($9,865,032.05 in 2023 USD). None of this is substantiated by contemporaneous documentation.[15][16] What is known is that, after Norton arrived in San Francisco, he enjoyed a good deal of success in commodities markets and in real estate speculation, and that by late 1852, he was one of the more prosperous, respected citizens of the city.

In December 1852, Norton thought he saw a business opportunity when China, facing a severe famine, placed a ban on the export of rice, causing the price of rice in San Francisco to increase from four to thirty-six cents per pound (9 to 79 cents/kg). When he heard the Glyde, which was returning from Peru, was carrying 200,000 pounds (91,000 kg) of rice, he bought the entire shipment for $25,000 (or twelve and a half cents per pound), hoping to corner the market. Shortly after he signed the contract, several other shiploads of rice arrived from Peru, causing the price of rice to plummet to three cents a pound. Norton tried to void the contract, stating the dealer had misled him as to the quality of rice to expect.[17][18]

For nearly two years, from early 1853 to late 1854, Norton and the rice dealers were involved in a protracted litigation. Although Norton prevailed in the lower courts, the case reached the Supreme Court of California, which ruled against him in October 1854.[19] Later, the Lucas Turner and Company bank foreclosed on his real estate holdings in North Beach to pay Norton's debt.[17] He filed for insolvency in August 1856.

Norton continued to run newspaper ads selling various commodities. Although these ads appear to have run their course by mid 1857, there are other public traces of Norton during this period. In September 1857, he served on a jury for a case of a man accused of stealing a bar of gold from Wells, Fargo & Co. and, in August 1858, Norton ran an ad announcing his candidacy for US Congress.[20] By this time, he was living in reduced circumstances at a working-class boarding house.[17]

Reign as emperor[edit]

Declaring himself emperor[edit]

Emperor Norton in full dress uniform and military regalia, his hand on the hilt of a ceremonial sabre.
Emperor Norton in full dress uniform and military regalia, his hand on the hilt of a ceremonial sabre, c. 1875

By 1859, Norton had become completely discontented with what he considered the inadequacies of the legal and political structures of the United States. In July 1859, he issued a brief manifesto addressed to the "Citizens of the Union". It outlined in the broadest terms the national crisis as Joshua saw it and suggested the imperative for action to address this crisis at the most basic level. The manifesto ran as a paid ad in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin.[20]

Two months later, on September 17, 1859, Norton hand-delivered the following letter declaring himself "Emperor of these United States", to the offices of the Bulletin:

At the peremptory request and desire 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 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; 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 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 to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.

— NORTON I., Emperor of the United States.[21]

The paper printed the letter in that evening's edition, for humorous effect, and thus began Norton's whimsical 20-year "reign" over the United States.[22][23]

An undated proclamation issued by Emperor Norton I regarding the assumption of his prerogatives by "certain parties" on display at the Wells Fargo History Museum in San Francisco, California.
One of Norton's undated proclamations

Norton issued numerous decrees on matters of state, including a decree on October 12, 1859, to formally abolish the United States Congress. In it, he observed:

fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled.[24]

In this same decree, Norton repeated his order that all interested parties assemble at Musical Hall in San Francisco in February 1860 to "remedy the evil complained of."

In an imperial decree issued in January 1860, Norton summoned the Army to depose the elected officials of the US Congress:

WHEREAS, a body of men calling themselves the National Congress are now in session in Washington City, in violation of our Imperial edict of the 12th of October last, declaring the said Congress abolished;

WHEREAS, it is necessary for the repose of our Empire that the said decree should be strictly complied with;

NOW, THEREFORE, we do hereby Order and Direct Major-General Scott, the Commander-in-Chief of our Armies, immediately upon receipt of this, our Decree, to proceed with a suitable force and clear the Halls of Congress.[25]

Norton's orders were ignored by the Army, and Congress likewise continued without any formal acknowledgement of the decree. A decree in July 1860 ordered the dissolution of the republic in favor of a temporary monarchy.[26] Norton issued a mandate in 1862 ordering both the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant churches to publicly ordain him as "Emperor", hoping to resolve the many disputes that had resulted in the Civil War.[7]

Norton then turned his attention to other matters, both political and social. In a proclamation dated August 12, 1869, and published in the San Francisco Daily Herald, he declared the abolition of the Democratic and Republican parties, explaining that he was "desirous of allaying the dissensions of party strife now existing within our realm."[27]

The failure to treat Norton's adopted home city with appropriate respect was the subject of a particularly stern edict that often is cited as having been written by Norton in 1872, although evidence is elusive for the authorship, date, or source of this decree:[28]

Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word "Frisco", which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars.[29]

Norton was occasionally a visionary, and some of his imperial decrees exhibited profound foresight. He is said to have issued instructions to form a League of Nations,[30][better source needed] he explicitly forbade any form of conflict between religions or their sects, and he issued several decrees calling for the construction of a suspension bridge or tunnel connecting Oakland and San Francisco—with the last of these decrees showing his irritation at the lack of prompt obedience by the authorities:

WHEREAS, we issued our decree ordering the citizens of San Francisco and Oakland to appropriate funds for the survey of a suspension bridge from Oakland Point via Goat Island; also for a tunnel; and to ascertain which is the best project; and whereas the said citizens have hitherto neglected to notice our said decree; and whereas we are determined our authority shall be fully respected; now, therefore, we do hereby command the arrest by the army of both the Boards of City Fathers if they persist in neglecting our decrees. Given under our royal hand and seal at San Francisco, this 17th day of September, 1872.[31]

Long after his death, similar structures were built in the form of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and the Transbay Tube,[32][33] and there have been efforts since the 1930s to name the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton or at least to add "Emperor Norton Bridge" as an honorary name for the bridge.[34][35]

Norton's imperial acts[edit]

An illustration by Edward Jump depicting the funeral of the stray dog Lazarus. At the head of the many people gathered is Norton, presiding over the funeral.
A fanciful depiction of Norton dressed as the Pope at the funeral of the itinerant dog Lazarus[36]

Norton spent most of his daylight hours inspecting the streets, spending time in parks and libraries, and paying visits to newspaper offices and old friends in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. In the evenings, he often was seen at political gatherings or at theatrical or musical performances.[citation needed]

He wore an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes, at some time given to him secondhand by officers of the United States Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco. He embellished that with a variety of accoutrements, including a beaver hat decorated with a peacock or ostrich feathers and a rosette, a walking stick and an umbrella.[37] In the course of his rounds, he took note of the condition of the sidewalks and cable cars, the state of repair of public property, and the appearance of police officers. He also often had conversations on the issues of the day with those he encountered.

Norton caricaturist, Edward Jump, started a rumor that two noted stray dogs, named Bummer and Lazarus, were Norton's pets.[38] Norton ate at free-lunch counters where he shared his meals with the dogs, although he did not, in fact, own them.[39]

Special officer Armand Barbier was part of a local auxiliary force whose members were called "policemen", although they were private security guards paid by neighborhood residents and business owners. He arrested Norton in 1867 to commit him to involuntary treatment for a mental disorder.[17] The arrest outraged many citizens and sparked scathing editorials in the newspapers, including the Daily Alta, which wrote "that he had shed no blood; robbed no one; and despoiled no country; which is more than can be said of his fellows in that line".[40] Police Chief Patrick Crowley ordered Norton released and issued a formal apology on behalf of the police force,[17] and Norton granted an Imperial Pardon to Barbier. Police officers of San Francisco thereafter saluted him as he passed in the street.

Norton did receive some tokens of recognition for his position. The 1870 US census lists Joshua Norton as 50 years old and residing at 624 Commercial Street, with his occupation listed as "Emperor". It also notes that he was insane. (However, the US Census instructions state "The fact of idiocy will be better determined by the common consent of the neighborhood, than by attempting to apply any scientific measure to the weakness of the mind or will."[41])[42]

Ten dollar note
A ten dollar note issued by the imperial government of Norton I

During the 1860s and 1870s, there were occasional anti-Chinese demonstrations in the poorer districts of San Francisco, and riots took place, sometimes resulting in fatalities. Starting in the late 1870s, those riots were fomented at rallies on Sunday afternoons at the sandlots across from City Hall. The rallies were led by Denis Kearney, a leader of the anti-Chinese Workingmen's Party of California. At a sandlot rally held on April 28, 1878, Emperor Norton appeared just before the start of proceedings, stood on a small box and challenged Kearney directly, telling him and the assembled crowd to disperse and go home. Norton was unsuccessful, but the incident was widely reported in local papers over the next couple of days.[43]

Norton issued his own money in the form of scrip, or promissory notes, which were accepted from him by some restaurants in San Francisco.[44] The notes came in denominations between fifty cents and ten dollars, and the few surviving ones are collector's items that routinely sell for more than $10,000 at auction.[45]

Foreign diplomacy[edit]

Throughout his reign, Norton commented on the policies and actions of foreign governments, issuing proclamations and sending letters to foreign leaders in attempts to establish congenial and fruitful relations with them and their countries and, if he felt it necessary, to cajole better behavior.

In 1862, Mexico was invaded by French Emperor Napoleon III after not being able to pay war reparations following the disastrous Reform War. Napoleon installed the Habsburg Maximilian I as his puppet ruler. That news quickly reached the United States and a man in San Francisco suggested that Emperor Norton take the title "Protector of Mexico", both because no-one had been appointed protector, and because of a popular legend stating Norton was the son of Napoleon III. Norton happily obliged, adding the title to many of his proclamations, but he later would revoke the title, stating, "It is impossible to protect such an unsettled nation".[7]

Norton wrote many letters to Queen Victoria, including a suggestion that they marry to strengthen ties between their nations. That proved futile because the queen never responded.[46]

Norton also sent a number of letters to Kamehameha V, the King of Hawaii at the time, regarding an estate in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Near the end of his reign, Kamehameha would refuse to recognize the democratic US government, instead opting to only recognize Norton as sole leader of the United States.[47][48][better source needed]

Later years and death[edit]

Norton was the subject of many tales. One popular story suggested that he was the son of Emperor Napoleon III and that his claim of coming from South Africa was a ruse to prevent persecution.[citation needed] Rumours also circulated that Norton was supremely wealthy and was feigning poverty because he was miserly.[citation needed]

Starting a few years after Norton declared himself emperor, local newspapers, notably the Daily Alta California, began to print fictitious decrees. It is believed that newspaper editors themselves drafted the fake proclamations to suit their own agendas.[17] Weary of that, in January 1871 Norton named the black-owned and -operated Pacific Appeal as his "imperial organ." Between September 1870 and May 1875, the Appeal published some 250 proclamations over the signature of Norton I. Historians and researchers who have studied Norton closely generally regard those proclamations as being authentic.

On the evening of January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed on the corner of California Street and Dupont Street (now Grant Avenue), across the street from Old Saint Mary's Cathedral, while on his way to a debate at the California Academy of Sciences.[17] His collapse was immediately noticed, and "the police officer on the beat hastened for a carriage to convey him to the City Receiving Hospital", according to the next day's obituary in the San Francisco Morning Call. Norton died before a carriage could arrive. The Call reported: "On the reeking pavement, in the darkness of a moonless night, under the dripping rain ... Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life". Two days later, the San Francisco Chronicle led its article on Norton's funeral with the headline "Le Roi Est Mort." (lit. "The King is dead", and the first half of the traditional proclamation of a new king)[49]

It quickly became evident that Norton had died in complete poverty, contrary to rumours of wealth. Five or six dollars in small change was found on his person, and a search of his room at the boarding house on Commercial Street turned up a single gold sovereign, worth around $2.50. His possessions included his collection of walking sticks, his rather battered sabre, a variety of headgear, including a stovepipe, a derby, a red-laced Army cap, and another cap suited to a martial band-master. There was an 1828 French franc and a handful of the Imperial bonds that he sold to tourists at a fictitious 7% interest.[17] Also found were fake telegrams, purporting to be from Tsar Alexander II of Russia, congratulating Norton on his forthcoming marriage to Queen Victoria, and from the President of France, predicting that such a union would be disastrous to world peace. Also found were his letters to Queen Victoria and 98 shares of stock in a defunct gold mine.[50]

Initial funeral arrangements were for a pauper's coffin of simple redwood. However, members of a San Francisco businessmen's association, the Pacific Club, established a funeral fund that provided for a handsome rosewood casket and arranged a dignified farewell.[7] Norton's funeral on Sunday, January 10, was solemn, mournful, and large. Paying their respects were members of "all classes from capitalists to the pauper, the clergyman to the pickpocket, well-dressed ladies and those whose garb and bearing hinted of the social outcast".[51] The next day, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, under the headline "Le Roi Est Mort," that some 10,000 people had come to view the emperor's body in advance of the 2 p.m. funeral. Notwithstanding the later legend of a "two-mile-long cortege," the Chronicle reported in the same article that people lined the streets for only the first block or two. The emperor's casket was attended by "only three carriages," with no mourners on foot, and there were "about thirty people" at the burial service in the Masonic Cemetery.[52]

In 1934, Norton's remains were transferred to a grave site at Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Colma, California.[53]

In popular culture[edit]

A plaque commemorating Norton, dedicated by E Clampus Vitus on February 25, 1939, which reads "Pause, traveler, and be grateful to Norton 1st, emperor of the United States and protector of Mexico, 1859–80, whose prophetic wisdom conceived and decreed the bridging of San Francisco Bay, August 18, 1869." The plaque depicts Norton, flanked to the left by the Bay Bridge and a dog labeled "Bummer" and to the right by a dog labeled "Lazarus".
This 1939 plaque commemorating Norton's role in the history of the Bay Bridge was originally at the Cliff House, San Francisco and then at the now-demolished Transbay Terminal. It is currently located inside Old Molloy's Tavern, in Colma, Calif.

Details of Norton's life story may have been forgotten, but he has been immortalized in literature. Mark Twain resided in San Francisco during part of Emperor Norton's public life, and modeled the character of the King in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on him.[17] Robert Louis Stevenson made Norton a character in his 1892 novel, The Wrecker. Stevenson's stepdaughter Isobel Osbourne mentioned Norton in her autobiography, This Life I've Loved, stating that he "was a gentle and kindly man, and fortunately found himself in the friendliest and most sentimental city in the world, the idea being 'let him be emperor if he wants to.' San Francisco played the game with him."[17]

In more modern times, the life of Emperor Norton is the inspiration for L'Empereur Smith, a Lucky Luke comic book adventure published in 1976. Norton also appears as a character in the comic book The Sandman, Vol. 2, No. 31, "Three Septembers and a January", by Neil Gaiman and Shawn McManus, and is voiced by John Lithgow in the audio book version of the comic. He appeared briefly in Captain America Comics #11.

There have been a number of television adaptations of the Norton story. In the June 15, 1956, episode of the western anthology series Death Valley Days, titled "Emperor Norton", Parker Garvie played the title character. In the February 27, 1966, episode of the western television series Bonanza, titled "The Emperor Norton", Sam Jaffe played the title role. The episode also featured William Challee as Sam Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain. In the December 18, 1956, episode of Broken Arrow season 1, episode 11, titled "The Conspirators", Florenz Ames played the "Emperor Norton".

Since 1974, the Imperial Council of San Francisco has been conducting an annual pilgrimage to Norton's grave in Colma, California, just outside San Francisco.[54] In January 1980, ceremonies were conducted in San Francisco to honor the 100th anniversary of the death of "the one and only Emperor of the United States".[55]

The Emperor Norton Trust, founded and based in San Francisco from 2013 to 2019, and originally known as The Emperor's Bridge Campaign, is a non-profit that engages in research, education, and advocacy to advance the legacy of Emperor Norton.[56]

Emperor Norton is considered a patron saint of Discordianism,[57] and a park in the micronation Molossia is named after him.

Public tributes[edit]

There have been perennial efforts to name major public San Francisco landmarks after Emperor Norton or to enact other permanent local tributes to him.

"Emperor Norton Place" — Honorary naming of 600 block of Commercial Street[edit]

The most recent of those efforts has been the most successful.

In February 2023, San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin introduced a resolution to add "Emperor Norton Place" as a commemorative name for the 600 block of Commercial Street. The resolution was adopted by the Supervisors, and approved by Mayor London Breed in April 2023, with signage installed in early May.[58][59][60]

Clock tower of the San Francisco Ferry Building[edit]

In October 2022, The Emperor Norton Trust announced a new effort to have the San Francisco Ferry Building clock tower named "The Emperor Norton Tower" in 2023, the 125th anniversary of the opening of the building in 1898.[61]

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge[edit]

In 1939, the group E Clampus Vitus commissioned and dedicated a plaque commemorating Emperor Norton's call for the construction of a suspension bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. The group intended to place the plaque on the recently opened San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge or, failing that, the new Transbay Terminal. However, that was not approved by the bridge authorities and the plaque was installed at the Cliff House in 1955. It was moved to the Transbay Terminal in 1986, in connection with the 50th anniversary of the bridge. The Terminal was closed and demolished in 2010 as part of the project to construct a new Transbay Transit Center, and the plaque was placed in storage. After being restored in late 2018, it was rededicated and reinstalled at the new transit center in September 2019 but, after being vandalized in 2020, was moved to Molloy's Tavern, in Colma, California, in 2021.[62]

There have been two 21st-century campaigns to name all or parts of the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton. In November 2004, San Francisco District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced a resolution to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, after a campaign by San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Phil Frank calling for the entire bridge to be named for Norton.[63] On December 14, 2004, the Board approved a modified version of this resolution, calling for only "new additions," i.e., the planned replacement for the bridge's eastern section, to be named "The Emperor Norton Bridge".[64] Neither the City of Oakland nor Alameda County passed any similar resolution, so the effort went no further.

In June 2013, eight members of the California Assembly, and two members of the California Senate, introduced a resolution to name the western section of the bridge after former California state Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.[65] In response, there were public efforts seeking to revive the earlier Emperor Norton effort. An online petition, launched in August 2013, called for the entire bridge system to be named after him.[34][66][67] The petition was the impetus for the creation of "The Emperor's Bridge Campaign", now known as "The Emperor Norton Trust", which continued the bridge-naming effort until 2022, citing the precedent of 30 California bridges for which the state had authorized multiple names. The Trust called on the legislature simply to make "Emperor Norton Bridge" an honorary name for the Bay Bridge, leaving in place all existing names. Most recently, the organization hoped to sponsor a legislative resolution that would take effect in 2022, the 150th anniversary of Emperor Norton's proclamations of 1872, setting out the original vision for the bridge. The legislature did not take up the issue in 2022, and the Trust suspended its bridge-naming effort.[68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dakers, Hazel (April 6, 2000). "Southern Africa Jewish Genealogy SA-SIG". Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Joshua Abraham Norton" Archived December 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine at 1820Settlers.com.
  3. ^ William Drury, Norton I: Emperor of the United States (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1986), pp. 10–15.
  4. ^ William Drury, Norton I: Emperor of the United States (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1986), p. 14.
  5. ^ "Le Roi Est Mort", San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 1880, p. 8.
  6. ^ William Drury, Norton I: Emperor of the United States (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1986), p. 10. "The age on the coffin lid, however, was merely a guess. At the inquest, Eva Hutchinson, the landlady of Eureka Lodgings which was the cheap hotel that was the Emperor's home for seventeen years, had testified that to the best of her belief he was 'a Jew of London birth'. And his age? Oh, about sixty-five. The coroner, lacking a birth certificate or any other material evidence, had simply accepted her word. And so the plate on his casket had been inscribed: JOSHUA A. NORTON DIED JANUARY 8, 1880 AGED 65 YEARS."
  7. ^ a b c d Cowan, Robert (October 1923). "Norton I Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico (Joshua A. Norton, 1819–1880)". Quarterly of the California Historical Society. 2 (3): 237–245. doi:10.2307/25177715. JSTOR 25177715. Archived from the original on September 24, 2018. Retrieved September 18, 2006.
  8. ^ "1820 Settler Party: Willson" Archived December 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine at 1820Settlers.com. This page contains information about the passage of the ship La Belle Alliance that carried young Joshua and his family from London to South Africa from February to May 1820, including the London passenger list showing Joshua to have been 2 years old at the time of his boarding.
  9. ^ Drury, William (1986). Norton I, Emperor of the United States. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. ISBN 978-0-396-08509-6.
  10. ^ John Lumea, "Homing in on the Birth Date?" Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, December 2, 2014. Reports on an item in the February 4, 1865, edition of The Daily Alta California, in which the Alta wrote: "HIS MAJESTY'S BIRTHDAY.—His Imperial Majesty Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Mexico, commences his forty-eighth year Saturday, February 4th, 1865."
  11. ^ "Norton, Joshua Abraham – newspaper cutting" Archived January 3, 2018, at the Wayback Machine at 1820Settlers.com.
  12. ^ a b John Lumea, "Joshua Abraham Norton, b. 4 February 1818," Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine The Emperor Norton Trust, February 8, 2015.
  13. ^ John Lumea, "Zpub, Emperor Norton Records & the Emperor's Birth Date: A Case Study in Good Intentions & Undue Influence" Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, February 16, 2015.
  14. ^ The Emperor Norton Trust, Emperor Norton at 200 Archived March 26, 2022, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ John Lumea, "How and When Did Joshua Norton Get to San Francisco? Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, February 10, 2017.
  16. ^ John Lumea, "Did Joshua Norton Really Arrive in San Francisco With a $40,000 Inheritance That He Built Into a Quarter-Million-Dollar Fortune in 3 Years?" Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, April 12, 2017.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Moylan, Peter. "Encyclopedia of San Francisco: Emperor Norton". San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. Archived from the original on February 23, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
  18. ^ John Lumea, "San Francisco Rice Imports From Late 1852 to Early 1853 Point to Market Specifics of Joshua Norton's Gambit" Archived May 23, 2022, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, May 22, 2022.
  19. ^ Ruiz v. Norton, 4 Cal. 355 (Cal. 1854).
  20. ^ a b John Lumea, "'A New State of Things?' A Pre-Imperial Proclamation from Joshua Norton in July 1859," Archived March 9, 2022, at the Wayback Machine March 8, 2022, The Emperor Norton Trust.
  21. ^ Proclamation of Emperor Norton, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, September 17, 1859, p.3. Genealogy Bank via The Emperor Norton Trust.
  22. ^ John Lumea, "Joshua Norton at the Transamerica Pyramid," Archived December 15, 2022, at the Wayback Machine The Emperor Norton Trust, December 14, 2022.
  23. ^ Nolte, Carl (September 17, 2009). "Emperor Norton, zaniest S.F. street character". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2009.
  24. ^ Proclamation of Emperor Norton, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, 12 October 1859, p.3. Genealogy Bank via The Emperor Norton Trust.
  25. ^ Proclamation of Emperor Norton, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, 4 January 1860, p.3. Genealogy Bank via The Emperor Norton Trust.
  26. ^ Proclamation of Emperor Norton, San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, July 27, 1860, p.3. Genealogy Bank via The Emperor Norton Trust.
  27. ^ An original copy of the edition of the San Francisco Daily Herald where the proclamation was published is at the California State Library. A photocopy of the section of the newspaper column that includes the proclamation is an illustration in Allen Stanley Lane, Emperor Norton: The Mad Monarch of America (The Caxton Printers, 1939), illustration page inserted between pages 168 and 169.
  28. ^ John Lumea, "On the Trail of the Elusive 'Frisco' Proclamation" Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, February 12, 2016.
  29. ^ It appears that the earliest reference to this text is in a booklet, San Francisco's Emperor Norton, self-published in 1939 by David Warren Ryder. Norton's biographer William Drury cites the anti-"Frisco" proclamation in his 1986 book Norton I: Emperor of the United States (Dodd, Mead), but he does not provide a primary source for it. Earlier "standard texts" on Norton do not mention this proclamation at all; this includes Allen Stanley Lane's 1939 book Emperor Norton: The Mad Monarch of America (The Caxton Printers, Ltd.) and Robert Ernest Cowan's October 1923 essay "Norton I: Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico", published in the Quarterly of the California Historical Society.
  30. ^ Lazo, Alejandro; Huang, Daniel (August 12, 2015). "Who Is Emperor Norton? Fans in San Francisco Want to Remember". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  31. ^ Proclamation of Emperor Norton, Pacific Appeal, 21 September 1872, p.1, California Digital Newspaper Collection via Bridge Proclamations Archived March 27, 2022, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust.
  32. ^ Herel, Suzanne (December 15, 2004). "Emperor Norton's name may yet span the bay". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 24, 2004. Retrieved April 17, 2007.
  33. ^ "BART — History and Facts, System Facts". San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART). Archived from the original on September 22, 2006. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  34. ^ a b Slaughter, Justin (August 13, 2013). "Petition to name Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton gains 1,000 signatures". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
  35. ^ Mechanics' Institute, "'Emperor Norton Bridge' in 2022?" Archived March 27, 2022, at the Wayback Machine, talk by John Lumea, founder of The Emperor Norton Trust, March 22, 2022.
  36. ^ "The Funeral of Lazarus". Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. July 24, 2004. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2006.
  37. ^ Photographs of Emperor Norton Archived March 27, 2022, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust.
  38. ^ Barker, Malcolm E.; Jump, Edward (January 2001). Bummer & Lazarus: San Francisco's Famous Dogs : Revised With New Stories, New Photographs, and New Introduction. San Francisco: Londonborn Publications. ISBN 978-0-930235-07-9.
  39. ^ Carr, Patricia E. (July 1975). "Emperor Norton I: The benevolent dictator beloved and honored by San Franciscans to this day". American History Illustrated. 10: 14–20. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2007.
  40. ^ "Arrest of the Emperor" Archived August 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Daily Alta California, January 22, 1967.
  41. ^ "1870 CENSUS: INSTRUCTIONS TO ASSISTANT MARSHALS". IPUMS USA. Archived from the original on November 10, 2023. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  42. ^ John Lumea, "Joshua Norton in the Census of 1870," Archived March 1, 2022, at the Wayback Machine The Emperor Norton Trust.
  43. ^ John Lumea, "Campaign Discovers Newspaper Record of Emperor Norton's Famous Stand-Off with an Anti-Chinese Crowd" Archived April 10, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, January 4, 2019.
  44. ^ Orzano, Michelle (June 24, 2014). "California campaign seeks to rename San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in honor of Emperor Norton". Coin World. Archived from the original on May 15, 2017. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  45. ^ "Imperial Government of Norton I. Sept. 17, 1871. 50 Cents". Stacks and Bowers Galleries. March 20, 2020. Archived from the original on September 17, 2023.
  46. ^ Lamb, Bill. "How Joshua Norton Became Emperor of the United States". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on October 28, 2020. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  47. ^ Forbes, David. Emperor Norton & Hawaii.
  48. ^ "The Emperor of the United States". The New York Public Library. Archived from the original on March 13, 2022. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  49. ^ John Lumea, "Setting the Record Straight on the Famous Emperor Norton Obit(s)" Archived February 5, 2020, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, December 15, 2017.
  50. ^ Asbury, Herbert (2002). The Barbary Coast. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 231. ISBN 978-1-56025-408-9.
  51. ^ "Le Roi Est Mort". San Francisco Chronicle. January 11, 1880. Archived from the original on May 24, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2006.
  52. ^ John Lumea, "A Funeral Cortege 'Two Miles Long'? Not Really." Archived May 22, 2023, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust, May 22, 2023
  53. ^ "Emperor Reburied". Time. July 9, 1934. Archived from the original on October 25, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  54. ^ Vigil, Delfin (February 21, 2005). "A gay court pays homage to its queer emperor". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 23, 2007. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  55. ^ Hansen, Gladys (1995). San Francisco Almanac. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-0841-5.
  56. ^ Rachel Swan, "The Emperor's Bridge Campaign Is Now a Nonprofit" Archived November 15, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, SF Weekly, November 11, 2014.
  57. ^ Metzger, Richard (2003). Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult. New York: The Disinformation Company. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-9713942-7-8.
  58. ^ Commemorative Street Name Designation, "Emperor Norton Place", 600 Block of Commercial Street (File #230230) Archived May 10, 2023, at the Wayback Machine, San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
  59. ^ Julie Zigoris, "Emperor Norton, One of SF's Most Beloved Eccentric Visionaries, to Be Honored With Street Renaming" Archived May 10, 2023, at the Wayback Machine, The San Francisco Standard, April 7, 2023.
  60. ^ Joe Kukura, "The renamed Emperor Norton street sign is now up in Chinatown," Archived May 10, 2023, at the Wayback Machine Hoodline, May 8, 2023.
  61. ^ Emperor Norton Tower proposal, The Emperor Norton Trust.
  62. ^ "A Plaque in 1939" Archived May 13, 2023, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust.
  63. ^ Resolution in Support of the Emperor Norton Bridge Archived December 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, introduced to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, 2004.
  64. ^ Herel, Suzanne (December 15, 2004). "Emperor Norton's name may yet span the bay". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications. p. A–1. Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2008.
  65. ^ California Legislature, 2013-14 Regular Session, Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 65 — Relative to the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge Archived August 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, June 12, 2013.
  66. ^ Dalton, Andrew (August 6, 2013). "Effort To Rename Bay Bridge After Emperor Norton Revived By Online Petition". SFist. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016.
  67. ^ Lynch, EDW (August 7, 2013). "Petition Calls for San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge To Be Named After Emperor Norton". Laughing Squid. Archived from the original on July 31, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  68. ^ Name It the Emperor Norton Bridge Archived December 8, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, The Emperor Norton Trust.


External links[edit]

Joshua Abraham Norton
"Emperor Norton I"
Born: 4 February 1818 Died: 8 January 1880
Titles in pretence
New title — TITULAR —
Emperor of the United States
17 September 1859 – 8 January 1880
Title abolished
New creation — TITULAR —
Protector of Mexico
1863 – 1867?