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Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-
Jimerson, Randall C.
Thompson, Roger R.
The California Gold Rush had a profound effect on the emerging city of San Francisco. Extreme highs and lows in the economic environment created an atmosphere in which the city's citizens were used to hardship and adversity. These conditions, combined with the importance of the newspaper industry explain the emergence of an eccentric individual such as Emperor Norton. Although he began his career in San Francisco as a prominent businessman, it is his later life as the self declared Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico which is most remembered today. Joshua Norton's career as Emperor mirrored that of San Francisco itself. His proclamations are remarkably insightful and forward thinking for his time and provide a picture of the city in the 1860s and 1870s. However, by the twentieth century, Norton came to be seen as a symbol of San Francisco and the tolerance the city was seen as expressing towards others. The enduring nature of Emperor Norton in San Francisco's memory is a testament to his popularity, both during his life and the subsequent creation of his symbolic persona.
Western Washington University
Subjects – Names (LCNAF)
Norton, Joshua Abraham, 1819-1880
Subject – LCSH
Eccentrics and eccentricities--California--San Francisco--Biography
San Francisco (Calif.)
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.
Martin, Dieter, "Emperor Norton I: the rise of a San Francisco cultural icon 1859-1880" (2009). WWU Graduate School Collection. 21.