Photograph courtesy of San Francisco History Room, San Francisco Public Library
Did you know the United States once had an emperor who lived in San Francisco? In fact, he was a rather eccentric character, and the locals allowed him to proclaim himself Emperor Norton I of the US and Protector of Mexico. To read more about this short-lived monarch, check out the History Resource Center: US database.
1. Go to the SFPL Home Page and select Articles & Databases. You will need a San Francisco Public Library card to get into the databases from outside the Library.
2. Under the Categories side bar on the left, select “History & Genealogy,” then select “History Resource Center: US.”
3. Select the “Advanced” search box and enter the terms “emperor,” “norton,” and “San Francisco” into the boxes.
4. Select the citation link that appears in the summary results:
Norton, Joshua (1818-1880). Encyclopedia of the American West. 4 vols. Macmillan Reference USA, 1996.
Here’s an excerpt from the biographical article:
Self-proclaimed Norton I, emperor of the United States and protector of Mexico, Joshua Norton (1818 or 1819-1880) cut quite a figure on the mid-nineteenth-century streets of San Francisco. Bedecked in a ratty coat of military design, scuffy boots, a rusty sword on his belt, and a top hat decorated with rooster feathers . . .