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Emperor Norton I of America

September 14, 2011

I had this idea for a story that was very different from anything I had written before. I figured I would post it as a piece of flash fiction, but it grew as I began writing it. Now at about 1,200 words its only half done. I’m not going to post it incomplete, because if I’m afraid if I do I may never finish it.

So for now, here’s a nifty somebody I was reminded of while browsing the web for random esoterica. His is definitely an “only in San Francisco” story.

Joshua A. Norton I, Emperor of America and Protector of Mexico

When his suit was worn out the city of San Francisco bought him a shiny new one.

This man’s story is definitely a case of perception influencing reality, even if it was only his reality. Some of my favorite decrees of his  include:

  • August 12, 1869 –  dissolved and abolished the Democratic and Republican parties because of party strife now existing within our realm.
  • 1879 – “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.”
  • And of course, his somewhat visionary call for a “League of Nations” and his decrees calling for the bridge connecting San Francisco to Oakland. (Both of which came to pass decades after his death.)

If you’ve never heard of this dude before, the Wikipedia article I linked to above is a short and entertaining read.

Maybe my fiction could use more harmless and well-meaning crazy dudes in it…

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