So I'm watching an old "Bonanza" yesterday, (Hallmark shows one every day at
4pm PT, and PAX shows another one at 5pm PT).. and one of the shows was
about this kookie guy who dressed up in military regalia and proclaimed
himself to be "Emperor of the United States" back in the Mid 19th Century.
His dream was to build the Golden Gate Bridge, thought impossible at the
time.. but he did build a smaller scale suspension bridge across a river to
prove the engineering was workable..
The show had him as a good friend of Ben Cartwright, but also a friend of
Mark Twain and other writers of renown of the day (which was apparently
In this episode he was beautifully played by Sam Jaffe, who looked
absolutely nothing like the photograph on the Web Site below, but hey,
Now this is one of the many episodes of "Bonanza" which are
semi-fictionalized history.. they also did a two-parter on the creation of
the Pony Express, where Little Joe signed up as a rider.. naturally they
took some liberties with reality, but the framework of those episodes was
Anyway Joshua "Emperor" Norton was apparently both beloved (by those who
thought he was a harmless genius) and despised by many who thought he was a
danger to the country and should be thrown into an asylum.. he made a
fortune cornering the rice market in San Francisco, and then lost it all,
and here's one of many Web Sites about him::
He created his own currency / notes which he used to pay his bills.
Apparently the originals are highly sought.. have any of you ever seen them
for sale anywhere? A search of eBay turned up nothing.. not that I could
afford one anyway.. I can't imagine that a lot of them have survived outside
of those in museums..