I have to admit to a major gap in my education: I never took high school American History. Fortunately I have friends to fill me in on the important bits that I missed. From my morning e-mails:

“On this day, in 1859 in San Francisco, Joshua Norton declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. One of his first acts “in office” was to abolish the Republican and Democratic Parties.

“He continued to make proclamations throughout his reign. These included commanding that the Golden Gate bridge be built and one about the name of the city, “Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abdominal word ‘Frisco,’ which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor.” Penalty for noncompliance was $25. Newspapers of the day printed his proclamations (and even made some up which were not from Norton!)

“During his daily patrol of the streets of San Francisco 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 in general saw to it that all office city’s ordinances were enforced.

“During one of the typical anti-Chinese demonstrations so common at the time, the emperor gave the local populace a lesson in the practical application of civics – and prayer. Sensing the dangerously heated tone of one particular meeting, Norton is reported to have stood up before the group, bowed his head and begun reciting the Lord’s Prayer. within a few minutes the agitators retreated in shame without putting any of their threats into cruel action.”

For more information about Emperor Norton, please see:


For all who are interested, I will be hosting House Parties and Marathons for “ReDefeat the Republic”, which calls for an immediate re-institution of the Nortonesque Benevolent Dictatorship.