Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

And Protector of Mexico, Too

August 3rd, 2009 · 2 Comments

Since the writing game puts food on our table, we currently have a somewhat complicated relationship with Google Books. Try as we might, we’ve yet to figure out a way we’ll be able to avoid starvation in a world where the sweat of our brow gets given away for free. Yet those concerns fall by the wayside when we stumble across primary source gems such as this 1876 account of Emperor Norton‘s odd habits.

For the uninitiated, Emperor Norton was a 19th-century San Franciscan who believed that America’s greatest shortcoming was its lack of a monarch. So, though penniless and mentally unstable, Norton decided to take that job for himself. As his contemporary so eloquently put it:

His hallucination is, that he is Emperor of California and Protector of Mexico. In accordance with this belief, his sole purpose in life is to properly administer to his subjects, and like a wise ruler should, do everything possible for the promotion of prosperity and the advancement of his dominions. His diplomatic relations with other countries are not lost sight of, and he profits by closely observing the progress or downfall of other nations, using their experience in his home policy. His power is duly recognized in times of international or civil wars. He claims to have reconciled the French and the Prussians, and brought about the peace that was established between them at the close of the late Franco-Prussian war. The war of the Rebellion was terminated through his interference, and the success attending the reconstruction of the Union, is due in a great part to his wise counsel.

Also check out the scanned version of Sandman #31, which features an awesome Emperor Norton vignette (complete with an appearance by Despair in full naked-with-a-finger-hook mode).


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • thatgirl

    I’m sure you’ve checked out the amazing comics of Kate Beaton, but here’s her Emperor Norton one if you haven’t…


  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @thatgirl: Thank you! Hadn’t seen that one. Think it really captures the man’s spirit–from what I gather, he was constantly surprised at the middling efficacy of his decrees.

    I also like that bit in the Sandman tale where Norton admits that he’s concerned over the matter of succession. Doesn’t occur to him that his failure to find a “queen” might have something to do with his obvious lunacy.