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California | Central Valley | Government & Elections | Racial Justice

10th Anniversary of William Alexander Leidesdorff Jr. Memorial Highway
by khubaka, michael harris
Wednesday Aug 21st, 2013 3:55 AM
September 2003, the California State Assembly adopted ACR 131 and marked a new beginning on a long journey to honor the African Founding Father of California, Honorable William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. October 2004 the highway markers were dedicated along US Highway 50. The salient contribution, establishing the Port of San Francisco ~ this 150th Anniversary ~ by Honorable William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. remains an open secret.
leidesdorff_highway.jpg
leidesdorff_highway.jpg

BILL NUMBER: ACR 131 CHAPTERED


BILL TEXT

RESOLUTION CHAPTER 41


FILED WITH SECRETARY OF STATE MAY 3, 2004


ADOPTED IN SENATE APRIL 29, 2004


ADOPTED IN ASSEMBLY SEPTEMBER 3, 2003

INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Cox
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Steinberg)
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Dymally)

AUGUST 18, 2003

Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 131--Relative to the William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. Memorial Highway.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

ACR 131, Cox. William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. Memorial Highway.
This measure would designate a specified portion of State Highway Route 50 as the William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. Memorial Highway.

The measure would also request the Department of Transportation to determine the cost of appropriate plaques and markers showing that
special designation and, upon receiving donations from nonstate sources covering that cost, to erect those plaques and markers.

WHEREAS, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. was 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; and

WHEREAS, In 1810, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. was born in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to Anna Marie Sparks, an African woman,
and William Leidesdorff, Sr., a citizen of Denmark, and died in 1848 of brain fever. He is buried near the entrance of the Old San
Francisco Mission Delores Sanctuary; and

WHEREAS, In 1841, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. sailed the first United States shipping vessel, the Julia Ann, into the sleepy
Mexican fishing Village of Yerba Buena, modern day San Francisco, to establish a world maritime center; and

WHEREAS, In 1843, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. was naturalized as a Mexican citizen in order to facilitate acquiring a
vast land grant from the Mexican authorities in the Sacramento Valley, and was an early advocate of creating dual United States
citizenship; and

WHEREAS, In 1844, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. obtained title to Rancho Rio de Los Americanos, well over 35,000 acres of
prime real estate along the south bank of the American River. His global trade and commerce projects financed, developed, and helped
stabilize the Sacramento Valley; and

WHEREAS, In 1845, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. accepted the position of United States Vice-Consul to the Mexican Alta California
region. By serving our nation in this capacity, he was the first African-American diplomat in history, and was affectionately known as
the "African Founding Father of California"; and

WHEREAS, In 1846, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. was an active leader in the Bear Flag Revolt during the Mexican-American War. His
official reports contain cherished accounts of the United States acquisition of California from Mexico; and

WHEREAS, In 1847, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. captained the first and only steamship in California prior to the Gold Rush of
1848, the Sitka. His maiden steam voyage up the Sacramento River is immortalized on the California State Seal and recognizes his vision
for increased maritime transportation of California's agricultural products to world markets; and

WHEREAS, In 1848, prior to his untimely death, William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. received official notification of vast quantities of
gold on his immense cattle and wheat ranch along today's State Highway Route 50 corridor; and

WHEREAS, It is a fitting tribute to the legacy of a great American pioneer that a portion of State Highway Route 50 be named the
"William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. Memorial Highway"; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate
thereof concurring, That the Legislature hereby officially designates the portion of State Highway Route 50 from Bradshaw Road to the
eastern Sacramento County Line the William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. Memorial Highway; and be it further

Resolved, That the Department of Transportation is requested to determine the cost of appropriate plaques and markers, consistent
with the signing requirements for the state highway system, showing the special designation, and upon receiving donations from the
Leidesdorff Project and other nonstate sources sufficient to cover that cost, to erect those plaques and markers; and be it further

Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the Department of Transportation and to the author
for appropriate distribution.