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{SPEAKER name="Maya Foo"}
Joshua Abraham Norton was one of the first eccentrics in California, and in the history of the West.

He was born in England in 1818 and his family moved to South Africa two years later in 1820, to the Cape of Good Hope near Algoa Bay.

Earlier in 1814, Britain had annexed the Cape colony and by 1820 there were around 5,000 British settlers there and the Nortons were among the first people in South Africa.

His father was a farmer and a merchant, although little is known about Norton's early life. His father's death in 1848 prompted Norton to sell the family business and he moved to San Francisco in 1849 with $40,000 from his inheritance.

He invested mostly in real estate and commodities. He mainly wanted to make money off of the miners and the gold fever in the San Francisco Bay area.

He opened a general store at Montgomery and Jackson streets and he also opened a cigar factory, an office building, and a rice mill.

He actually opened the first or built the first rice mill on the Pacific coast. He tried to corner the rice market due to the influx of Chinese immigrants who were there to help build the railroads.

By 1852, his assets were worth around $250,000 which is around $5 million in today's money, but he shortly thereafter went bankrupt due to delayed shipments of rice and lawsuits with former business partners and importers which led him to file bankruptcy in 1856.

The banks foreclosed on his properties and he went from being a socialite to being almost destitute.

And this is really when his life became interesting.

In 1859 he proclaimed himself as the emperor of the United States in the San Francisco Bulletin newspaper and from this point on he was referred to as Emperor Norton the first.

The newspaper continued to print Norton-

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