The first Emperor of the United States, Joshua Norton I is a figure of great honour and acclaim in the field of micronationalism. A clever merchant, the wealthy Norton was left tragically destitute by stochastic misfortune in the city of San Francisco. Historians today debate whether this catastrophe caused Norton to develop a psychosis or whether he simply felt that he had nothing to lose by embracing weirdness, but in either case, he declared himself the Emperor of the United States. Over the years of his later life, Norton grew from being considered a harmless eccentric to being a local hero and, finally, a legend in his own time. Over the course of his "reign," Norton was a proponent of women's rights (sometimes) and an opponent of bigotry and racism. Norton is today celebrated as an example of what one can do when one refuses to accept limitations, a reminder of how a nation can be built (or re-imagined) by the will of a single human being, and perhaps also a reminder that one man's madness is another man's greatness.

In January 2007, the Empire organized a modest tribute to Emperor Norton, wherein several states known to celebrate Emperor Norton Day on January 8th were invited to contribute a short written or recorded essay about His Majesty. The submitted works are archived here.

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