Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico

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Joe Kissell tells the story of Emperor Norton who was recognized, sort of, in San Francisco for more than 20 years. Hoppean lessons on natural elites as well as points from La Boétie on consent abound. I note the wisdom of the Emperor’s decrees: “An 1860 decree dissolved the United States of America; a few months later, another decree prohibited Congress from meeting in Washington, D.C. In 1869, Norton issued a decree abolishing both the Democratic and Republican parties.”

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Update: This story just gets better. A reader points out this incident from Norton’s Wikipedia entry:

It was during one of his “Imperial inspections” that Norton is reputed to have performed one of his most famous acts. During the 1860s and 1870s there were an unpleasant number of anti-Chinese demonstrations in the poorer districts of San Francisco, and ugly and fatal riots broke out on more than a handful of occasions. During one such incident, Norton is alleged to have positioned himself between the rioters and their Chinese targets, and with a bowed head began to recite the Lord’s Prayer repeatedly. Shamed, the rioters dispersed without incident.

10:38 am on May 26, 2005