Jesse Walker reviews Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations:
The patron saint of such projects is Joshua Norton I, the San Francisco eccentric who in 1859 declared himself the emperor of the United States. He issued his own currency, which local businesses honored; he made royal proclamations, which the local newspapers printed; according to legend, he once managed to stop an anti-Chinese riot merely by standing in front of the mob and reciting the Lord’s Prayer. I can’t endorse all of his policies-the fines he levied on anyone he overheard calling the city ‘Frisco’ were an unconscionable interference with freedom of speech-but his reign was altogether far less bloody than that of his two rival emperors in the east, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. When he died in 1880, tens of thousands of people attended his royal funeral.
See also: Footnotes to History‘s guide to micronations.