Levi Strauss Levi, Levi Strauss, San Francisco discussed on Stuff You Missed in History Class
That is friends without the our best fiends. So Levi quickly established a list of regular clientele and even if he had received shipment of that first load of freight that his brothers had sent there. Were already two other shipments on the way he was doing business. Ostensibly for the company that his brother founded which was j Strauss and brother but he was invoicing clients sort of as a separate business as just Levi Strauss in July eighteen fifty-five Levi sent a shipment of gold. Back to his brother's this was valued at a little over ten thousand dollars at the time. Which is estimated to be close to a quarter of a million dollars in modern currency? Of course it's really difficult to make those estimates. Clearly the California office was doing really well in spite of the fact that there was something of a financial panic going on in San Francisco that year. It didn't seem to impact Strauss by the end of eighteen fifty-five he'd sent more than eighty thousand dollars home in gold. Yeah one of the things. That really made his business. It'll come up over and over that. Even when they are difficulties they still managed to pull through and even do pretty well like people will always need dry goods. They always need clothes and linens and household basics so it was a really smart business to be in the in the first place in eighteen fifty six saw continued expansion of the Strauss enterprise in California Levi. Sister Fogler who had changed her name to fanny when she moved to the United States. Move to San Francisco with her husband. David stearns and their children assist with the growing responsibilities of the business and his brother. Louis also join them. It is possible though unconfirmed that his mother Rebecca made the journey as well and for the first time since moving to the US leave. I actually had a home with an address that was separate from his business. Not living above it or Within it indicating that there was this ongoing trend of prosperity. The firm also changed names that year it went from J Strauss and brother to j Strauss brother and company maybe to acknowledge Levi's contribution but on all records in California it was listed as Levi Strauss Levi sent more than double the amount to New York in eighteen fifty six that he had an eighteen fifty five that amounted to approximately two hundred thousand dollars eventually in the late. Eighteen sixty s Levi changed the name of the California branch to Levi Strauss and company recognizing his family members contributions eighteen fifty six was also the year that Levi Strauss became involved along with his brother in law in the committee of vigilance which was a vigilante group. Made up largely of merchants that formed to combat the city's growing political corruption and related violence while business and politics had largely stayed separate up to that point concerns over how businesses could be impacted by the lawlessness of men in power led to the committee of vigilance nominating and eventually electing many of the city's business leaders into political office. Oh they picked people that they knew from other merchants and put them in office because they thought that was safer and while Strauss did not seem to have any political ambitions of his own he did back the political efforts of the committee. Those committees there were several of them in several places at this time period and in some places their activities were kind of controversial because there was like an extrajudicial violence capacity in this combat of corruption. So it's like there's a whole bigger story there but his involvement was really about electing to city positions and there had actually been a similar committee in San Francisco several years prior to this. That was much more of like a vigilante law force. That thought that they would fill the gap between the crime that was going on and the police were obviously to their minds. Not doing anything about it. So that existed in San Francisco as well although he was not part of that at the time and eighteen fifty seven. The Strauss family experienced a financial loss in September the S. Central America which had picked up passengers and freight in Panama including a large shipment of gold went down in a hurricane off the US coast in the Atlantic. More than four hundred people died at an estimated one point. Five million dollars of gold was lost including seventy six thousand dollars that was on route to j Strauss brother in company from Levi Strauss and company incidentally the wreckage of the Central America was found and much of the treasure recovered in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight. Although there was a significant legal battle over who should get that gold. The thinking of the Central America set off a financial panic. There was a lot of gold that New York banks had been expecting on that ship. So when it didn't show up that was it was a significant economic disruption and yet as seems to be the pattern of his life Levi Strauss weathered the storm part of this was because his brothers were the ones shipping him goods. So that meant. He didn't have to reassure a supplier of his good credit and be like no. I know I lost some money but I will make it up to you. They're like yeah. We'll just keep it going. So the Strauss family continued business as usual and because other entrepreneurs didn't have the credit or the leverage to do the same thing Levi's business flourished as other shutdown by the end of the year. He was shipping gold to New York once again and he had expanded to have offices in the city that were actually separate from his warehouse. He was also taking shipments of raw materials from suppliers outside the family which he then leveraged in deals that got him discounts on the goods that were made from those raw materials as the country found itself in the grip of the civil war. San Francisco's citizens realized they could eventually be impacted by it. California had entered the Union as a free state as outlined in the compromise of eighteen fifty. But while most of the city was loyal to the Union there were some concerns about some government officials wanting to allied with the confederacy after a pro union rally in the city on. May Eleventh Eighteen Sixty one at the junction of Montgomery market and hosts streets. A resolution was put forth that formed a Union Committee of Thirty Four. This is a committee of respected men. He would uphold the ideals of union. Fill vacant government posts and keep an eye out for treason Levi. Strauss is one of the men named as a member of this group and one of only three Jewish men included. Yeah they were very worried that there were people that were infiltrating California who were pro slavery and that it was gonNA completely cause an upheaval of everything going on in the state and particularly in a large city like San Francisco so they really wanted to try to keep an eye out and prevent such a problem. When the troops that were stationed at the Presidio? Were sent east to fight. It really left the people of San Francisco a little bit uneasy and they were fearful without protection now. Volunteer group known as the Home Guard was founded that consisted of three thousand men and it sort of served as a makeshift military force. The Home Guard and the Union Committee of thirty four actually disbanded though when Leland Stanford was elected California Governor Stanford was a pro union Republican. Who is very well respected successful and powerful so the concerns of some sort of pro confederacy uprising that led to the formation of those two groups were pretty diminished under his leadership. Strauss in his California business continued to do well through all of this and the prosperity of California's merchants helped keep the country afloat through the civil war. Strauss had recognized the value of real estate fairly early on and had invested in a number of properties throughout the city which often sold as a prophet after holding them. For some time Levi Strauss and company also moved into a new space that he purchased in eighteen. Sixty seven was a four story building on Battery Street but clearly showed the company's Success. The company was known for its excellent and speedy service and the ability of its employees to satisfy client needs with even the largest orders. There was a write up where they actually used. The word empowered to describe the Salespeople and clerks at Levi Strauss As being able they were empowered to meet the needs. Agree to deals with clients which is sort of a weird word to be using in the eighteen sixties but there was Unfortunately the late eighteen sixty s also came with family. Loss as Levi's half sister. Mary died in eighteen sixty six and his mother. Rebecca pass three years later after Rebecca's death Levi traveled back to New York and he stayed there for a month presumably to help settle accounts and get her affairs. In order. There is also an embezzlement scandal at Levi. Strauss and company are in October of eighteen. Sixty six when news broke that a bookkeeper had taken five hundred thousand dollars and left the country while the company not wanting to scare away business partners said that there was no money missing. It also made a statement in an advertisement that the man in question. Es Goodman was no longer with the company it was not authorized to conduct business on behalf of Levi Strauss and company. This mix. The messages seemed to below over while Mr Goodman never saw any retribution of the fact that he had taken money from his employer quite a lot of money from his employer. Neither the company NOR LEVI. Strauss personally seems to suffer. Any negative fallout from it. Yeah that's one of those stories were it's like. They completely claimed that it had not happened. So there is no record of it happening but then the fact that they're also like but also if you talk to that guy he doesn't You Know I. It does seem like it's a little bit of a weird combination of things to put out in the press. The company continued explosive. Growth right into the eighteen seventies as Levi who obviously had an impressive business instinct realized that he needed to expand into international markets. At that point his business had expanded to supply merchants. All along the Western seaboard into Oregon and Montana but he was also expanding farther into the American southwest and then he started to reach out to potential clients in Canada Mexico and Hawaii coming up. We're going to dive into the thing that the Levi Strauss name is most closely associated with today. Which is blue jeans? I.