William Alexander Leidesdorff

William Alexander Leidesdorff

Birth
U.S. Virgin Islands
Death 18 May 1848 (aged 38)
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Plot In the floor of the Church
Memorial ID 8892679 · View Source
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Businessman. America's first African-American Millionaire. He was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands and emigrated as a free Black. He came to California in 1841 and was the first Black pioneer of the city. Upon his arrival to San Francisco, he built the city’s first hotel, established a thriving general store, bought 35,000 acres of prime ranch land and erected a huge warehouse which he leased to the U.S. government. He was also the proud owner of the first steamer ship in the San Francisco Bay. He had a flair for politics, and in 1845 was appointed Vice Consul to Mexico by Consul Thomas Oliver Larkin and served under the jurisdiction of Commodore Stockton who was then the military governor of California. In this capacity Leidesdorff gave aid to Fremont and the Americans raising the Bear flag in the historic rebellion at Sonoma in 1846. His official report of this incident to Consul Larkin, is an important document of the period. He was also appointed American Consul in California and Sub-Consul for Yerba Buena. He also served as a member of San Francisco’s first Town Council and first School Board which supervised the building of the first public school and later was appointed City Treasurer. He spoke several languages requiring him on occasion to work as interpreter for official events. A bachelor to the end of his days, Leidesdorff nevertheless established himself in a large home that boasted the only flower garden in Yerba Buena. He won international fame as one of the city’s most genial hosts. Whenever government officials, American or Mexican, came to town, Leidesdorff’s home, the largest and most impressive in the area, was always chosen as the scene for lavish state entertainment. He was America's first Black Millionaire. Leidesdorff died of brain fever in 1848 at the early age of thirty-eight. In his death he was accorded the highest recognition. Flags hung at half-mast from all military barracks and vessels in the port. Minute guns were fired as the funeral procession made its way through the winding streets to Mission Dolores, where with imposing ceremonies his body was laid to rest. Leidesdorff Street was named after him.

Bio by: Debbie


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Debbie
  • Added: 9 Jun 2004
  • Find a Grave Memorial 8892679
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Alexander Leidesdorff (26 Mar 1810–18 May 1848), Find a Grave Memorial no. 8892679, citing Mission Dolores Cemetery, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .