Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Emperor Of the United States

If you around in San Fransisco, it is highly improbable to have the Masonic or Woodlawn Cemetries on your touring list. I suggest you visit the Woodlawn for a nice surprise and a good story. The epitaph reads :
--------------------------
NORTON I
Emperor Of The United States
and
Protector of Mexico
Joshua A. Norton
1819-1880
-----------------------------
That surprised me.Our history books have taught us about the 40 odd president of the US, but never an emperor.Please visit this link or this one to grab the complete story behind this real and eccentric person.

As you could see, he was self proclaimed emperor of the country who claimed it in a piece of writing to the local paper. The editor had a sense of humor in publishing it and the people of San Fransisco good enough to entertain this illusion as well as enjoy it.Mark Twain wrote an obituary for one of his stray dogs (That in itself is a very high accord).His "Bulletin" contained some prophetic stuff. For example he wanted to raise funds to bridge the San Fran Bay area connecting Oakland, Marin County and the city itself. Of course he also advised Lincoln to marry Queen Victoria and personally believed that his dispatches terminated the Franco-Prussian war among other things.

At his funeral, many were there to write of him and among those was Robert Louis Stevenson,whose words were also a tribute to the Emperor's city :

"In what other city would a harmless madman who supposed himself emperor of the two Americas have been so fostered and encouraged? Where else would even the people of the streets have respected the poor soul's illusion? Where else would bankers and merchants have received his visits, cashed his cheques, and submitted to his small assessments? Where else would he have been suffered to attend and address the exhibition days of schools and colleges? where else, in God's green earth, have taken his pick of restaurants, ransacked the bill of fare, and departed scathless? They tell me he was even an exacting patron, threatening to withdraw his custom when dissatisfied; and I can believe it, for his face wore an expression distinctly gastronomical..."

This is just one facet of this great city.

3 comments:

Sumedha said...

I can't wait to visit 'Frisco' :)

gvenum said...

This is nothing. NTR(ex-AP CM) has claimed himself as Lord Balaji of Tirumala. He believed he is the re-incarnation of Lord Balaji(he said in one of his classical interviews). And the interesting part is there are people who believe him. But most appaling part is he has been the CM for almost 8 years and I was there to see all his Natakbaji.
Ahh... the things I have seen in my life...what can I say......so left a comment instead:)

Paddy said...

[Sumedha] Yeah. You wont be disappointed.

[Venu] Hahahah. I beg to differ that this guy is very different. A nice variation of democracy is epitomised by this man. Au contraire, NTR was elected democratically by the folks and they cannot blame anyone. methinks