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Norton Cabal

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Title: Norton Cabal  
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Subject: Malaclypse the Younger
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Norton Cabal

Joshua Abraham Norton (c. 1815 – January 8, 1880), also known as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco who proclaimed himself "Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico" in 1859. Though he was generally considered insane, or at least highly eccentric, the citizens of San Francisco in the mid-to-late 19th century celebrated Norton's regal presence and his deeds. He continues to be a patron saint of the unusual, and of eccentrics, as he is mentioned as a Saint in the Principia Discordia (1970), the seminal main text of the Discordian religion.


  • Ghirardelli, a chocolatier in San Francisco, used to offer a sundae called "The Emperor Norton", which has as its primary garnishes two bananas and a handful of nuts. The company also produced a 5-oz. "Emperor Norton Non-Pareils" candy.
  • The Oakland-based San Francisco Bread Company produced the "Emperor Norton Sourdough Snack Chips" in 5.5-oz. or 12-oz. bags. Varieties include original flavor and ranch. The product is marketed through deli shelves, and according to vice-president of operations Jill Schuster, it had a very loyal following around the country. The product was discontinued in early 2012.
  • In [1]


  • The Norton Utilities.
  • , a webcomic, uses Emperor Norton as a minor character.
  • There was a popular blog titled "Strip Mining for Whimsy", whose author wrote under the name Joshua Norton II, Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico. It was taken down in March, 2007.
  • twice.
  • Others have tried to co-opt Norton's image for their own use: In 1999, it was reported (via a spiritual medium) that Emperor Norton had issued a new decree which, among other things, established that his Imperial Domain now extends to include the Usenet.


  • Emperor Norton inspired the character "the King" in [2] Twain was resident in San Francisco during part of Emperor Norton's "reign".
  • The story of Emperor Norton was used by Neil Gaiman in "Three Septembers and a January", an issue of his comic book The Sandman included in the collection Fables and Reflections. Gaiman's Norton is a victim of Despair until Despair's brother, Dream, gives him the dream of royalty. Dream's sister Delirium notes that Norton's fantasy of Imperial power keeps him from true insanity, observing that "he should belong to me, but he doesn't ... his madness keeps him sane." In later issues collected in Worlds' End, it is mentioned that a movement started in San Francisco sought to declare Prez Rickard Emperor of the United States, and a figure resembling Norton appears in one of the later stories marching in a procession.
  • A short story by Robert Silverberg, "The Palace at Midnight", features a post-apocalyptic California with an Empire of San Francisco. The Emperor at the time of the story is a decrepit and senile Norton the Seventh.
  • Emperor Norton, Bummer, and Lazarus make a brief appearance in Barbara Hambly's Ishmael, a novel set in the Star Trek universe. There are also references to "The Emperor of San Francisco" in the science-fiction novel The Woman Between the Worlds by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre.
  • Dianne Day's San Francisco-based "Fremont Jones" mystery series includes the novel Emperor Norton's Ghost (1998), in which a friend of the intrepid investigator claims to be communicating with the late Emperor about some unfinished business.
  • The character of "His Imperial Highness Smith" in the French Comic "Lucky Luke: L'empereur Smith" (1976), by Morris and René Goscinny, is loosely based on Norton. In contrast to the historical Norton, at the time that he declared himself emperor, the fictional Smith remains a successful businessman. In fact it is becoming fabulously rich that gave him his delusions of grandeur. He is capable of maintaining his own private army which an outlaw manipulates him into using to "reconquer" the United States before Lucky Luke stops him. In spite of the drama arising from the manipulations, Smith is never described as malicious, probably in respect of the "real" emperor. At the end of the comic book, a page is devoted to a short biography of the real Emperor Norton.
  • Norton is the probable basis for the Selma Lagerlöf novel, Kejsarn av Portugallien (The Emperor of Portugallia), the story of a rural Swedish man so disturbed by his daughter's leaving home that he goes mad and declares himself the emperor of Portugallia, parading through the streets of his village wearing a long robe and a bizarre piece of headgear. The 1925 film The Tower of Lies is based on the book.
  • Emperor Norton I is the ruler of the Bear Flag Empire (encompassing the modern-day states of California, Oregon, and Washington) in R. Talsorian Games' Castle Falkenstein series of RPGs. Originally installed as a figurehead by the leaders of the Bear Flag Revolt, he was popularly asked to remain as a beloved monarch after the assassinations of the men that had originally propped him up.
  • In Diana: Warrior Princess by Marcus Rowland (a satirical RPG with an "alternate" 20th-century setting, which also features such "historical" characters as Wild Bill Gates and Prince Albert Einstein), Emperor Norton is described as the "benign ruler of large parts of America."
  • Alistair Cooke's Letter From America featured Norton as the subject of one of its episodes.
  • Emperor Norton was one of 15 "eccentrics" featured in the book Eccentrics by Henry and Melissa Billings as part of their critical reading series The Wild Side[3].
  • Emperor Norton makes a cameo appearance in The Golden Nineties by Lisa Mason.
  • The opera of Emperor Norton is being composed and written by one of the lesser characters in the novel Factotum by Charles Bukowski.
  • Warren Baer's 1934 melodrama The Duke of Sacramento is based on the career of The Emperor Norton.
  • T.A. Pratt's novel Blood Engines makes a reference to Emperor Norton through a cameo by Norton's appointed (and very powerful) Court Magician.
  • Emperor Norton's story makes an appearance in the Emperor Norton comics
  • The comic strip The New Adventures of Queen Victoria includes Norton as a minor character. The third paperback collection of the strip is entitled Norton Hears a Who, and Other Stories.
  • The character of Mr. Crazy in the novel Dark Hearts Of Chicago by William Horwood and Helen Rappaport is based on Norton.
  • An pair of "Emperor Norton Awards" is made annually by Tachyon Publications and Boderlands books, for "extraordinary invention and creativity unhindered by the constraints of paltry reason."[1][2]


  • An actor dressed in a costume resembling Emperor Norton's regalia, accompanied by two dogs, thought to be Bummer and Lazarus, is briefly seen leading a torchlight parade during the San Francisco sequence of the 1956 film Around the World in Eighty Days.

Video games

  • Emperor Norton is a character in the Neuromancer video game, an adaptation of the novel by William Gibson. He hangs out in the Matrix Restaurant and sells the player skill chips.


  • Lu Watters composed a piece entitled "Emperor Norton's Hunch" Recorded on Good Time Jazz 12002 1954.
  • An opera based on Norton's life was penned by Henry Mollicone and was performed by (among other companies) the West Bay Opera company in the San Francisco peninsula in the fall of 1990.
  • An opera by Jerome Rosen premiered in [4]
  • An independent record label, Emperor Norton Records, memorializes his legacy through their dedication to Emperor Norton's history.
  • Emperor Norton: A New Musical by K. Ohanneson with songs by M. Axelrod premiered at San Francisco's Dark Room Theater in December 2005 and ran there for three months, consistently selling out the Dark Room. A condensed and re-arranged version was presented in July 2006 at the San Francisco Theater Festival, and a revised production with many of the original cast and several new songs began a three-month run at the Shelton Theater in January 2007.
  • Since 2003, an opera "Gino Robair, based on the Emperor's life, combining free and conducted improvisation with graphical and conventional scores, has been performed by many ensembles in North America and Europe.
  • In 2007, an Irish four-piece rock band formed under the name "Protectors of Mexico". They are now disbanded.
  • In 2007, a musical play, "Bummer and Lazarus as characters
  • "[5]
  • "Emperor Norton's Jazz Band" is a high-energy dixieland jazz band that performs all over the Bay Area.
  • "The Sons of Emperor Norton" are a San Francisco based band that perform vintage country and blues, Americana, and Rockabilly music.


In the religion of Discordianism, Emperor Norton is considered a Saint Second Class, the highest spiritual honor attainable by an actual (non-fictional) human being. The Principia also says that the Goddess Eris / Discordia replied with Norton's name when questioned as to whether She, like Jehovah, had a Begotten Son. As reported in the Principia Discordia, the Joshua Norton Cabal, a group of Discordians based in San Francisco, has as its slogan: In official practice, the phrase is never translated out of Latin, except on certain holidays.


  • The San Francisco radio station KFOG referred to the Bay Bridge as the Emperor Norton during their morning traffic reports in the late 1980s [need confirmation of exact dates].


  • [6]
  • Broken Arrow "The Conspirators" (episode 11, aired 12/18/56).
  • Weird U.S., Vol. 3 (History Channel) DVD (2004).
  • "Surprise", a Korean entertainment show, aired a 're-enactment' of Emperor Norton's life in 2006.


  • The Bugle nominated Emperor Norton for October 2008's prestigious "Hottie From History" award.[3]

LGBT Culture

  • José Sarria, a drag queen and early gay activist, proclaimed himself "Her Royal Majesty, Empress of San Francisco, José I, The Widow Norton" in 1964. As the Widow Norton, Sarria established the Imperial Court System, an international network of charitable organizations. Sarria died in August 2013, at the age of 89 or 90, and is buried at the foot of Norton's grave at Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma, California.


  • Many micronations celebrate January 8 as Emperor Norton Day.
  • Norton appears on the currency of some micronations, including the 10 Valora coin and 5 Valora paper note of the Republic of Molossia.
  • Molossians have declared part of their backyard to be Norton Park.
  • Micronations can be awarded Norton Awards for Micronational Excellence.[by whom?]


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