The Emergence of Emperor Norton
The true life account of Joshua A Norton is one that fascinates people even though he died 150 years ago. A wealthy business in San Francisco in the mid-1800's, a combination of greed, bad luck, a risky business venture turned a man who was in the upper crust of society during the Gold Rush into one who lost everything. For a number of years, Joshua Norton disappeared from the society and lived in squalor and anonymity in a boarding house. The factual account is that he reappeared in society by marching into a newspaper office and demanding that they run a notice in the next day's edition. The great humour, the newspaper complied and the citizens awoke the next day to find that he had proclaimed himself as Norton I, Emperor of the United States. Where the citizens of San Francisco initially treated this and subsequent proclamations with derision, eventually, they accepted his "monarchy" and humoured him for the next 20 years. Restaurants and theatres granted him life time access to their establishments and the business community accepted his self-printed currency at par with the American dollar. This story is my own speculation and theory as to what could of changed this man and what would have led him from being a successful businessman, to living in a rooming house, to having proclaimed himself as Norton I, Emperor of the United States and the Protector of Mexico.