Myths & Apocrypha
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Those Empresses
An Alleged Empress Didn'tWannabe:  Minnie Wakeman.
Not to be confused with Norton's "Dowager Widow."

Research credit Peter Moylan: Encyclopedia of San Francisco

Maybe it was the non-historic inclusion of an empress in the opera (see Proclamations -- [Hist: 3-11 June 1999 new opera: Emperor Norton of the U.S.A.]) that punched our buttons; but as Monty Python posed, "Women in lakes distributing swords is no basis for a government." And in this empire there was no lake and Norton-1 brought His own sword.

We do not presume to dispute Peter Moylan's research in which he states that at 63 years of age His Majesty knew and corresponded with then 16 year old Ms. Wakeman. In one message Norton-1 wrote, "My dear Miss Wakeman. In arranging for my Empress, I shall be delighted if you will permit me to make use of your name. Should you be willing, please let me know, but keep your own secret. It is safer that way, I think. Your devoted loving friend, The Emperor."

She interpreted the convoluted letter to be a proposal and responded: too late; I have a previous engagement.

Nor shall we challenge the authenticity (though some do) of His 1875 Proclamation in which Norton-1 stated "intention to take an Empress."

His Highness' birth date is believed to be 17 January 1811 or 4 or 14 February 1819*. Thus in 1875 Joshua A. Norton was 64 or 56, but not 63. This discrepancy in age may not be significant; nor is there any reason that the "proposal" and Proclamation must have been coincident. They may represent two separate flirtations with marriage as a lifestyle, which brings us to our point:

There never was an Empress.
His dating women before, during, and especially after His Reign is undocumented to the best of our research [see Drury, ISBN 0-396-08509-1].
Affairs of state dominated His time.
He lived alone.
The fiction performed in the name of opera should not be heard again.
*This site's WebMinister is also a Valentine child, if a tad younger and aliver than His Highness. Further, the WebMinister attended UCDavis' operatic performance as part of the research needed to complete this page and found not only Norton-1's life distorted--but my ears in the xtreme.

Read the Dowager Widow's story.
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