You probably didn't know it, but back in the 1860's and 70s, the United States of America was ruled over by an emperor. That's right, an Emperor. But then most of the citizens' back then didn't know it either.
On January 8, 1880, Emperor Norton, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico died. Ten thousand people attended his funeral.
Emperor Norton was born Joshua Abraham Norton in London, England. At the age of 31, he came to San Francisco. Over the next four years, he accumulated a small fortune through a series of investments.
Because of a famine in China, the price of rice in San Francisco went from 4 cents a pound to 36 cents a pound. Hoping to corner the rice market, Norton bought rice for 12 cents a pound. Unfortunately, rice started arriving from everywhere, and the price went down to just 3 cents a pound. In the process, he lost everything and went bankrupt. This caused Joshua Norton to move into a world of fantasy.
In 1856, he walked into the office of San Francisco's Bulletin Newspaper declaring himself as Norton I, Emperor of the United States.
As only they could, the citizens of San Francisco took him into their collective hearts and for 21 years, they defended his causes as he abolished Congress and the Supreme Court. And at the beginning of the Civil War, he even fired both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
Finding fault with President Andrew Johnson, he ordered the President tried, and "If found guilty, behead him or send him here to polish the Emperor's boots."
All of Emperor Norton's edicts weren't crazy. One of them required San Francisco to build a bridge at the exact location where the Golden Gate Bridge was eventually built.
Incidentally, at Emperor Norton's funeral the people of San Francisco remembered him as a leader who never levied a tax or sent a boy to war.