Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton I (c. 1819 - January 8, 1880) also known as Emperor Norton I and Emperor Joshua I, was self declared Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Emperor Norton was born in England in about 1815, and later moved to San Francisco in 1849 from South Africa.
On September 17, 1859, Emperor Norton declared himself Emperor of these United States by this decleration.
"At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.
Emperor of the United States."
During his reign, he had issued his own money in the form of bills which were accepted by the local stores where he regularly visited. The people of the area humored Emperor Norton's belief by referring to him as His Imperial Majesty. He had also proposed that a bridge should be built linking San Francisco to Oakland, which eventually was built. Now there is a proposition that the bridge be named after him. Emperor Norton would often make Imperial Inspections of the sidewalks, cable cars, and dining establishments. Many restaurants in the area had his seal of approval. Plays and musical preformances would often reserve balcony seats for him and his two dogs.
Impact on Micronationalism
The notion that one could leave a state and create his own country, without interfering with the government or having bloodshed, had no doubt been influenced by Emperor Norton. Today, there are many micronations who celebrate Emperor Norton I Day (Emperor Joshua I Day in Delo-Cavers Empire) commemoration of the Emperor on January 8, the day of his death. These include the Republic of Molossia, the Kingdom of TorHavn, Corvina, and the Empire of Deloraine-Cavers, among others. The countries of Molossia, Delo-Cavers, and the Kingdom of Bolcar also have Emperor Norton on their bills and coins. Norton Park in Molossia named after the Emperor.