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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-

Second Advisor

Jimerson, Randall C.

Third Advisor

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

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Norton, Joshua Abraham, 1819-1880

Subject – LCSH

Eccentrics and eccentricities--California--San Francisco--Biography

Geographic Coverage

San Francisco (Calif.)




masters theses




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