Emperor Norton: The Only Monarch of the United States | Tooky History

Politics 101 – if something’s wrong, ya blame the immigrants And that’s precisely what was happening in San Francisco a 150 years ago Just as an incident was about to happen, a man stood between the Chinese and the locals Quietly bowed his head and recited the Lord’s prayer Both crowds dispersed – nobody was to be hurt on that day The magical man was a friend to them all – Emperor Norton, the first and only emperor of The United States Joshua Norton came to San Francisco as an already rich man. He went about his business and was fairly successful Until, one day, he tried to corner the rice market Norton invested pretty much everything he had, and lost all of it… Including his mind He disappeared after the ordeal – nobody had seen or heard from him until he showed up at various newspaper offices With a document in which he deemed that the citizens proclaimed him the emperor of these United States The editors found him amusing. They played along, and so did the people of San Francisco Every day Norton would wander about, inspecting the streets of his city He would greet everyone, and everyone would greet him Whether a royal salute or a simple bow, it was really all the same to His Majesty During his daily patrol, Norton made certain that all sidewalks were unobstructed He reviewed the police to see that they were on duty He checked on the progress of needed street repairs, inspected buildings under construction And, of course, if anybody had a minute or two he was always up for a chat about all kinds of topics Norton’s majestic reign produced quite a few imperial decrees The corrupt US Congress was to be dissolved. Both the Republican and Democratic parties needed to be abolished for creating tension in his realm And yes, whoever called San Francisco the abominable word “Frisco” was to pay 25 dollars Which in today’s money is like a 1000 bucks. And you gotta admit, that’s a small price to pay for uttering such a dumb word Norton also frequently wrote to queen Victoria and other royal counterparts throughout the world. And he got replies! Just not from them… Although, the king of Hawaii at the time said he would only speak to Norton and didn’t recognize “the other US government” Yeah…that’s probably the reason why Hawaii doesn’t have a king anymore Just as Norton took care of his city, his city took care of him Officers gave him a new uniform whenever they noticed his old one was starting to look shabby Every theatre and every restaurant in town had a seat and a table reserved for the emperor Sometimes it was free of charge, but sometimes it had to be paid with Norton’s own currency Happily printed by the local press One day during the emperor’s stroll, a policeman, obviously new in town, arrested Norton And locked him up to be sent to a mental institution The public was so outraged that Norton was immediately let free He wasn’t one to bear a grudge, so the policeman got an imperial pardon the very same day To a lot of people, Norton was a man of mystery. Many of them thought that he wasn’t really bankrupt but was pretending His progressive ideas about building a bridge across the San Francisco bay Creating a league of nations and equal rights for women were all considered odd at the time Upon his death, authorities found only a few dollars in change “The king is dead!” read all the newspapers as more than 30 thousand people Gathered for the funeral of their most beloved citizen…


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