It has happened before…

… Fortunately, in those days, the good citizens of San Francisco took it as an enormous joke.

Emperor Norton copy“At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton… declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; 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 first day of February 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.”


Norton I, Emperor of the United States
(San Francisco Bulletin, 17th September, 1859)

Here’s his wikipedia entry



  1. And don’t forget the more recent President of the Pacific Ocean, Spike Africa. I actually met Spike Africa one night out drinking on Union Street in the 1970s.

  2. Don’t forget the SF Chronicle’s launching of The Emperor Norton’s Treasure Hunt in 1955 onwards. Clues were published, people would scour them for meaning and go digging up all kinds of places in search of the “treasure”. Lots of fun, lots of empty holes, everybody waiting for the next clue to be published in the paper.

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