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The International Court System

The Imperial Court System in the United States was founded in San Francisco, California, in 1965 by José Sarria. Sarria, affectionately known as “Mama José” or similar among Imperial Court members, adopted the surname “Widow Norton” as a reference to Joshua Norton, a much-celebrated citizen of 19th-century San Francisco who had declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico in 1859.

Sarria soon became the nexus of a fundraising group with volunteer members bearing titles of nobility bestowed by yearly elected figurehead leaders of Emperor and Empress. In the United States, the first court outside of San Francisco was in Portland, Oregon, which joined with San Francisco in 1971 to start the Court System, followed by Seattle, and then by Vancouver (by the self-proclaimed Empress of Canada, ted northe (who always spelled his name in the lower case), who founded the Canadian Court System in 1971, after being inspired by attending a ball in Portland OR, and thus became the International Court System).

These empires operated and formed policies more-or-less independently until an Imperial Court Council led by Sarria was formed to prevent participation by groups that were not strictly and solely involved with charitable fundraising.