Proclamations for 1859

September 17, 1859

Have We an Emperor among us?

The world is full of queer people. This forenoon, a well-dressed and serious-looking man entered our office and quietly left the following document, which he respectfully requested we would examine and insert in the Bulletin. Promising him to look at it, he politely retired, without saying anything further. Here is the paper:

At the peremtory request of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the past nine years and ten months of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U.S., and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in the Musical Hall of this city on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.

Norton I., Emperor of the United States.

17th September, 1859.

October 12, 1859

Another Ukase from Czar Norton—Congress Abolished

Take notice, the world!

His Imperial Majesty, Norton I, has issued the following edict, which he desires the Bulletin to spread before the world. Let her rip!

It is represented to us that the universal suffrage, as now existing through the Union, is abused; that fraud and corruption prevent a fair and proper expression of the public voice; that open violation of the laws are constantly occurring, caused by mobs, parties, factions and undue influence of political sects; that the citizen has not that protection of person and property which he is entitled to by paying his pro rata of the expense of Government:—in consequence of which, we do hereby abolish Congress, and it is therefore abolished; and we order and desire the representatives of all parties interested to appear at the Musical Hall of this city on the first of February next, and then and there take the most effective steps to remedy the evil complained of.

October 13, 1859

All a Mistake.—Norton I., Emperor of the United States of America, informs us that it is altogether an error to suppose that Gen. Scott visits the Pacific for the purpose of settling the San Juan Island difficulty. He says Scott comes out for the purpose of escorting him (the Emperor) to Washington city. “The world” should govern themselves accordingly.

October 25, 1859

The Supreme Court in Peril

The Emperor, Norton I., has had his attention directed to another evil that afflicts this people. By the following decree he seeks to set things to rights. Vive l’Empereur!

Citizens of California

Whereas, Complaints are made that the Supreme Court of this Stat have, in several instances, reverted their own decisions, thereby making the power of the Court itself of no avail. If you acknowledge the Empire, appeal to the Emperor in all such inconsistencies.

Norton I.

Emperor of the U. S. America.

San Francisco, October 24, 1859.

October 27, 185

Further from Norton I.

This morning we had another visit from the Emperor Norton I. He left us with the following proclamation, politely requesting its publication:

Californians! The abolition of the Supreme Court of your State is requested. Proclaim the Empire, and defined the position of your Emperor. Is he paramount chief, with or without a House of Representatives? We shall then be able to act understandingly.

Norton I., Emperor.

At a late period of the day, his Imperial Majesty requested us to publish the following:

At the peremptory request and desire of a majority of the citizens of California. We, Norton I., Emperor of the United States of America, do hereby abolish the Supreme Court of this State, and the same is hereby abolished; and all the functions of the Judges and Clerks thereof shall cease and determine from this date.

Norton I., Emperor.

San Francisco, Cal., October 27, 1859.


“Further from Norton I,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 17 (Thursday, October 27, 1859): 2.

November 3, 1859

Positively the Emperor’s Last

Whereas, Certain scurrilous and untrue articles, attacking our right and propriety, have appeared in one or two insignificant papers of this city; and,

Whereas, There are always portions of a community whose taste can be pampered by low and improper articles: Therefore, I decree that the good sense and honesty of purpose of the Nation is not to be insulted by such trash.

Norton I.

Emperor of the United States.

San Francisco, Cal., November 3, 1859.

November 17, 1859

Published by particular request of—the Emperor.

Proclamation of Norton I. on the Harper’s Ferry Insurrection

Whereas, Reliable accounts having reached this city, that certain persons, instigated by treasonable and malignant motives, have been exciting the slaves of our provinces of Virginia and Maryland to acts of unparalleled wickedness, against the Laws of the Empire.

Notice is hereby given, that it is our fixed and unalterable determination, at all risks and at all hazards, to have order and the rights of property maintained; and that neither time nor money, nor even the shedding of blood, will be spared in carrying out this, our stern resolve.

We issue this our proclamation, at the earliest moment we can turn aside from the consideration of the weighty matters in connection with the formation of ordinances, regulations and statutes to be recommended in our address, to be delivered at the great convention of the representatives of the nation, to be held at Musical Hall next February.

Norton I.

Emperor of the United States of America.

By the grace of God and the National Will.

December 28, 1859

Proclamation by the Emperor Norton I.

Head Quarters, Musical Hall

San Francisco, Cal., December 28, 1859.

Disapproving of the act of Gov. Wise of Virginia in hanging Gen. Brown at Charlestown, Va., on 2nd December; And considering that the said Brown was insane and that he ought to have been sent to the Insane Asylum for capturing the State of Virginia with seventeen men;

Now Know All Men that I do hereby discharge him, Henry A. Wise, from said office, and appoint John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, to said office of Governor of our province of Virginia.

Norton I.,

Emperor of the United States of North America.

December 30, 1859

Card from Joshua Norton.

Editor of the Bulletin—Dear Sir: In directing the attention of the public to a silly article in a trifling morning paper of this date, signed Simon-ten (th), I take the occasion to observe that the outrage on me personally is too contemptible for me to take any notice of. To those not posted, the attempt to swindle the Good and Sweet from the foreign Element may not be so apparent.

I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, am the author of all the articles that have appeared in the Evening Bulletin under the signature of “Norton I;” and I alone am responsible for every line therein. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Joshua Norton.


  1. “Have We an Emperor among us?” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 8 no. 139 (September 17, 1859): 3.
  2. “Another Ukase from Czar Norton—Congress Abolished,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 4 (October 12, 1859): 3.
  3. “All a Mistake,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 5 (October 13, 1859): 3.
  4. “The Supreme Court in Peril,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 15 (October 25, 1859): 2.
  5. “Further from Norton I,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 17 (October 27, 1859): 2.
  6. “Positively the Emperor’s Last,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 23 (November 3, 1859): 3.
  7. “Proclamation of Norton I. on the Harper’s Ferry Insurrection” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 35 (November 17, 1859): 3.
  8. “Proclamation by the Emperor Norton I,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 68 (December 28, 1859): 3.
  9. “Card from Joshua Norton,” Evening Bulletin (San Francisco) 9 no. 70 (December 30, 1859): 3.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.