William Alexander Leidesdorff Book Announced

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New Book Chronicles Life of First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer

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. 

        Atlanta, GA, October 25, 2005:  William Alexander Leidesdorff is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the pioneering of the West and the creation of the State of California.  Born out of wedlock in St. Croix, Danish West Indies in 1810 to a Jewish Danish sugar planter and a Black plantation worker, he went on to become the first Black millionaire when gold was found on his property shortly before he died in 1848.

        In this new book, entitled “William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer,” author Gary Palgon recounts the many accomplishments of the little-known man from whom a street was named for in San Francisco’s financial district, a portion of Highway 50 was dedicated to in Sacramento County and is buried inside of the historic Mission Dolores.  While residents and tourists pass by these landmarks daily, few actually know that he helped settle the State, was the Treasurer in San Francisco between 1847 and 1848, launched the first steam-powered schooner on San Francisco Bay, held the first horse race in the State, and had the only house in San Francisco with a flower garden in the 1840s.

        “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," commented Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of the United Negro College Fund.

        In Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 131, then-California Assemblyman Dave Cox referred to Leidesdorff as “a prominent civic leader and pioneer in the successful quest for California to become the 31st state in the United States.  He was elected Treasurer of the City of San Francisco, owned the largest home in the city, constructed the first City Hotel, built the first commercial shipping warehouse, and donated the land to build the first public school in California.”

         “His life was cut short in 1848 at the age of 38 years when he died of meningitis”, said Mr. Palgon, “and the sad part is that family, friends and the government spent the next fifty-plus years arguing over his estate which was valued at more than one million dollars at the time.  Gold had been found on his land just prior to his death.”

        William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer is available at www.FamilyTreeExpert.com/Legacy.  The author may be contacted at Expert@FamilyTreeExpert.com.

About the Author

Gary Palgon, the Family Tree Expert, was born in Miami, Florida, and has lived in Atlanta, Georgia since 1990 working in the computer industry. In 1981, he began researching his family’s history, tracing over 4,500 relatives back to the 1600s on six continents. His research has taken him throughout the United States, Eastern Europe and the Middle-East, visiting the towns where his ancestors lived.  He has published four books about his family history as well as several others pertaining to genealogy. 

William Alexander Leidesdorff: First Black Millionaire, American Consul and California Pioneer

By Gary Mitchell Palgon
ISBN: 1-4116-4625-8
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2005900955
Publication Date: October 2005
96 pages; 38 figures; index.

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