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The Emperor of the United States





quex
No, this isn't a political satire about any current administration. It's one of those great stories in American history that doesn't make it into the standard curriculum.

Quote:
Joshua Abraham Norton (c. 1815 – January 8, 1880), also known as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco who, in 1859, proclaimed himself "Emperor of these 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... 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 to be built across San Francisco Bay.


Please enjoy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_of_the_United_States

Note: I adore collecting these sorts of historical "gems." That is, pieces of history that, while entertaining, are often lost from mainstream education. If you have any leads or stories to share, from any branch of world history, please let me know!
The Conspirator
This forum has been here over a munth and I didn't notice it.

I heard about on the discovry channel. Intresting
Slash
For a great, great historical person that has been lost... Check out John Paul Jones.

I've spent much of my undergraduate work researching the privateer that haunted England during the American Revolutionary War.

He was never given the powers he deserved by the Americans, so he went out and caused havoc on the coast of England during the war and also invaded some areas.

Amazing person... I can post my report on him later if you wish?
starfish2007
waw first I here of a Emperor of the us but i read the hole story you linked to and I found it very intresting
quex
Damnit, so THAT is who John Paul Jones was? I have heard that name in song lyrics and satire before, but I never had any idea...

By all means, please share your report! I would love to read it!
ralphbefree
certainly the great city of san francisco has been producing some the greatest eccentrics for over 150 years. what a great story i remember hearing about this person before and it was interesting to revisit this character in history.
brucedes
Reminds me of the president of Sealand, a disused oil rig in the north sea, which someone bought and declared a country Smile
qebab
brucedes wrote:
Reminds me of the president of Sealand, a disused oil rig in the north sea, which someone bought and declared a country Smile


I don't think they actually bought it. I think it was just an old British Major who knew about the rig, just went out there and set up a 'government', and declared himself a royal person. I've read about it, but I can't quite remember.
pampoon
Quote:
Joshua Abraham Norton (c. 1815 – January 8, 1880), also known as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco who, in 1859, proclaimed himself "Emperor of these 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... 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 to be built across San Francisco Bay.


Hum, I can't say I've ever heard of this before. I've taken advanced History classes, both American and World, since I was a Sophomore. Odd. I wonder if my professors know about this Smile

Anyways, good finding. I think it's a shame that things like this are left out of education. I'd love to learn about insane men who tried unsuccessfully to take over the New World Wink

God bless,
Pampoon
quex
Dear Pampoon,

It's amazing what you can get out of your professors when they're drunk after a game... try it sometime! :wink: Honestly, though, there are the most ridiculous rules in place for the standard curriculum, both in public and private schools. Simply put, to assure that everyone's history degree is comparable, there are select chapters in history that must be completed and little time for anything else. The good stuff shows up in grad school.

I wonder if you've ever heard about the Molasses Flood in Boston? The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-9? (Hurrah for Wikipedia!)

And, you do realize, of course, that by the time San Francisco had been established, the Americas were hardly the "New World" anymore... or was that an incredibly subtle jab at the Obscuriency? Because if it was, I think I will have to get you drunk after a game. XD
DeFwh
Interesting but at that point like it said his influence didnt extend very far which isn't suprising since those were the golden years.
reddishblue
quex wrote:
I wonder if you've ever heard about the Molasses Flood in Boston? The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-9? (Hurrah for Wikipedia!)

Yes I have heard of the Spanish Flu, and please if possible, keep finding such interesting forgotten history, I love hearing about it.
quex
reddishblue wrote:
Yes I have heard of the Spanish Flu, and please if possible, keep finding such interesting forgotten history, I love hearing about it.


Thank you! May I extend the same invitation? Please post your favorites!
defnet
Ha "Emperor Of the United States" sound could.

It would for sure look better on the money. A signature from the EMPEROR Razz
Soltair
Well that's the kind of historic episodes that make you smile. Very Happy

Here in Quebec, some time ago, there was a kingdom project... A guy had the idea to create a "touristic" kingdom in order to attract people to his place. The main idea was to sell noble titles to tourists, especially americans. This way, you could buy a cottage there and be name Duke Whosoever or Count Mynamehere. There were also many other ideas around that. Sadly, it all flunked when it was discorvered that the king actually has a cottage... somewhere else. Quite bad publicity!
suntzu3500
I wonder if this guy actually believed that he was the emperor, if he was truly insane, or if he was just their equvilent of a stand-up comedian?
Vrythramax
suntzu3500 wrote:
I wonder if this guy actually believed that he was the emperor, if he was truly insane, or if he was just their equvilent of a stand-up comedian?


I am familiar with this particular story, and by all accounts he honestly believed he was the Emperor of The United States....I think they call it "Delusions of Grandure" (sp?). I believe he was quite mad (as in insane), but he was also quite harmless to those around him.
Jinx
I remember reading about the Emperor Norton. He had a cameo appearance in a novel I read a couple of years ago about a woman who came to San Francisco from South America during the gold rush to search for her missing husband, but for the life of me I can't recall the name of the book.
I've read about him in other places, too, and I think it's a shame he's nearly forgotten. We have so many interesting characters in our history.
I'd love to see some of the currency he issued. I imagine it's quite valuable today as an historical oddity.
Kecos
I heard about this in the fact or crap game my social studies teacher has. It sounds pretty interesting. I'm going to go read it now and learn more =)
quex
Kecos wrote:
I heard about this in the fact or crap game my social studies teacher has.


I am unfamiliar with the concept of the "fact or crap" game, but it sounds like a good tool. Is it something your teacher made, or is it sold commercially...? Either way, I want one!
hereme
It's very intresting and will be better.
bassman
Hilarious story! It's pretty cool that people participated by honoring his currency, etc.!
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