William A. Leidesdorff

Banking without Banks

In recent months Dr. Tiemann has focused his research into economic and banking history on the California Gold Rush. He plans to produce a series of articles from that work. In this article, though, Dr. Tiemann examines the fascinating period just before the Gold Rush, when California’s economy suffered a severe shortage of cash and an absence of banks. Read about William A. Leidesdorff, a San Francisco merchant in the 1840s, who dealt with those handicaps by becoming, in effect, his own banker.