Emperor Joshua Norton I

The following is an excerpt from the Principia Discordia. I don't think a better explanation of who and what Emperor Norton was is in existence.
Our borrowings from Christianity (well, actually, Christianity is a sect of Discordianism, so I guess we just borrowed from ourselves [and hopefully we aren't charging ourselves too much interest], but that wasn't adequately proven until recently) are so obvious that mention of them is almost insulting to whatever modicum of intelligence you possess. But from that tradition we gained our crafty distrust of the reality principle as well as the rather singular notion of an Only Begotten Son.
      We asked Goddess if She, like God, had an Only Begotten Son. She assured us that She did and gave His name as Emperor Norton I -- whom we assumed was probably some Byzantine ruler of Constantinople. Diligent research eventually turned up the historical Norton, as we call Him, in the holy city of San Francisco -- where He walked His faithful dog along Market Street scarcely more than a century ago.
      Gregory Hill (better known by his Discordian Holy Name, Malaclypse the Younger) has since become the world's foremost authority on Joshua A. Norton who, on September 17th of 1859, crowned Himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. Just before then, He vanished for a number of days -- perhaps into the wilderness where maybe He was tempted by the Devil, probably to organize His life and get His affairs in order.
      Certainly they looked like that's what they needed. For on the day before His disappearance Norton, heretofore little more than a successful businessman, cornered the rice market -- only to be foiled by the unscheduled arrival of a whole shipload of rice from the Orient. A lesser man would have been thrown out of step by that event which for Him became a step to the throne.
      When the US Congress failed to obey His Majesty's Royal Order to assemble in the San Francisco Opera House, Norton fired every last member of that rebellious organization. Thus, the people of San Francisco knew better than to incur His Imperial wrath. His Royal Decrees were printed free of charge in the newspapers, the currency He printed was accepted in the saloons, local shopkeepers paid the modest taxes He occasionally demanded and on at least one occasion a tailor furnished Him with a new set of Royal finery.
      Although a madman, Norton wrote letters to Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria which they took seriously.
      One night a gang of vigilantes gathered for a pogrom against San Francisco's Chinatown. All that stood in their way was the solitary figure of Norton. A sane man would not have been there in the first place. A rational man would have tried to reason with them. A moralist would have scolded them. A man as daft as Norton usually seemed would have loudly ordered them to cease and desist in the name of His Royal Imperial authority. All such tacks would probably have been futile, and Norton resorted to none of them.
      He simply bowed His head in silent prayer.
      The vigilantes dispersed.
      Discordians believe everybody should live like Norton.
      So write your legislative representatives demanding harsh laws with teeth in them requiring all people of all faiths -- especially Christians and especially on Sunday -- to live as Joshua A. Norton did.
      About five years ago I had a dream in which someone was yelling ``SIGNS IN THE SKY!'' When I looked up I saw balloons and blimps carrying aloft big neon letters that said: ``NORTON DIED! WANT NO DEAD!''
      But when Emperor Norton died, tens of thousands of San Franciscans flocked to His full Masonic funeral. Pilgrimages to His grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma are still common.
      Perhaps occasionally the soul of Emperor Norton descends once more into the world to momentarily inhabit the body of an otherwise undistinguished infidel. One day I was sitting in a hamburger stand in rundown Midtown Atlanta. A burned-out speed freak at a nearby table looked at me with a pleasant smile and said, ``I'm King of the Universe. I don't know what I'm doing in a place like this.''
      And perhaps that's the big attraction of our faith. If you want, you can be King of the Universe. Jesse Sump is Ancient Abbreviated Calif. of California. I am Bull Goose of Limbo and President of the Fair-Play-for-Switzerland Committee. Camden Benares is Pretender to the Throne of Lesbos. Greg Hill is Polyfather of Virginity-in-Gold. Sabal Etonia is High Constable of Constantinople. You can declare yourself Archbishop of Abyssinia or Curator of the Moon -- we don't care, but your mailman will be impressed.