Joshua Norton of San Francisco proclaims himself Emperor Norton I of the United States
Joshua Norton was born to a Jewish family in England and arrived in San Francisco in the 1850s where he became a wealthy businessman. He was bankrupt, however, by 1853, and became mentally deranged. On this date gave his first written proclamation as Norton the First, Emperor of the United States. San Francisco went along with the charade and the ornately uniformed Norton became a popular figure whose pronouncements were keenly followed. He died "in office" in January 1880. Ten thousand people attended his viewing. (By John Osborne)
Robert Ernest Cowan, "Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico (Joshua A. Norton, 1819-1880), " Quarterly of the California Historical Society, October 1923, p.3.