Today marks the birthday of Joshua A. Norton, famous San Francisco crazy person! Born in 1819 in London, Norton did what every good fellow does when gifted with $40,000 from his fathers estate: he promptly invested in Peruvian rice. Sadly, this venture didn't work out so well for Norton and he hightailed it to San Francisco in order to avoid a lawsuit concerning his rice contract. (“What brings you to this lovely city by the Bay, old chap?” “Dodging a rice contract, guvnuh!” “Oh, quite, quite!” Polishes monocle.) Having picked perhaps the only city on Earth where an insane person can amass pretend political import, Norton proceeded to appoint himself emperor of the United States. He procalimed that the US Congress be dissolved by force and issued currency in his name that merchants actually accepted. His eccentricities earned him a lovable notoriety and he became a popular area figure. Mark Twain immortalized him in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as the character The King and Robert Louis Stevenson made him a character in his novel The Wrecker. Norman collapsed in 1880 on the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant Avenue.) If you are in the area, pour a nice snifter of brandy out for The King on his birthday. -Andy Wright
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