First Black Millionaire
William Alexander Leidesdorff
“The life of William Alexander Leidesdorff is the
kind of African-American success story that deserves its proper
place in history. Young people, both Black and White, need to know that
even during the era of slavery, African-Americans were leaders among the
pioneers who settled the West and built our great cities. The fact that
Leidesdorff served on San Francisco's first school board and
helped to start the city's first school attests to the importance that
African-Americans accorded education even on the frontier and even in
that difficult time"
"It is important to
share the life and success of such a great African-American with
the world. His story will guide so many others to desire and accomplish
much with their own dreams. I salute you for making this information
possible to those who might not get the chance to read about William
More Testimonials >
History, Love, Lore
Great for academic studies, book reports,
Vice-Consul William Alexander Leidesdorff assisted in the establishment of the Bear Flag Republic, declared California under American occupation, was San Francisco Treasurer and helped establish the first public school in the State.
How come they do not teach about him in school?
It's true, he's one of
the best kept secrets in modern American history, but the fact of the
matter is his life story is not all one of glory. He was born out of
wedlock, sent off without his family and a great debate over his sexual
orientation since he never married. This book is based on over twenty
years of historical research and is loaded with facts written during and
after his life.
He died at the young age of 38 years in 1848 with a wife or children, and because gold was found on his property making his estate worth over $1,500,00, people from around the world came out of nowhere claiming to be relatives of William's attempting to gain a share of his wealth. Lawsuits ensued for the next half-century in the United States, Danish West Indies and Europe until the last appeal was heard!
Absolutely -- and he has to some degree. He was given the highest honors during burial at Mission Delores and all flags were flown at half-staff and business were closed for the day. There is a street named for him in the financial district of San Francisco, Leidesdorff Way, a highway has been named after him in California along the property that he once owned and other streets, squares and districts have been named for him throughout northern California.
While he's deserving of a postage stamp, he hasn't made it yet -- though maybe one day. He took out Mexican citizenship in 1844 and was granted 35,000 acres of land in the Sacramento Valley. He served as Vice Consul of Mexico from 1845 to 1846. Being fluent in several languages, in 1846 he translated the proclamation that California was part of the United States. He served as a member of the city’s first town council, was instrumental in creating San Francisco’s first school, was the city’s first treasurer, opened the city’s first hotel, and owned and mastered the first steamboat on San Francisco Bay.
The book spans his life and has over 35 documents and images giving a clear picture of what life was like for him and those around him at the time.
After reading the book,
you will have an appreciation for the challenges that he faced, what he
did to overcome obstacles throughout his life and the impact his deeds
had on the many generations that have followed him. And while it has
been over 160 years since he died, his legacy lives on today - as the
City of San Francisco, the California School System, the State of
California Flag, horse racing and much more.
© Copyright 2008 Gary Palgon, All rights reserved