Host Faves: Levi Strauss
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We've got all the news and pop culture. That reminds you that there's life outside your apartment. It's what you want to know when you need to know it. Listen to news o'clock on the iheartradio, APP Apple, podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey listeners. This episode is part of our new playlist to help everybody get through these times. We're living in its our host faves. Yet, these are just some of our personal favorites. Affinity for end because these are stressful and trying times, we've tried to stick to the ones that weren't quite as Dour so hopefully they'll give you a little lift. Stay safe. Welcome to stuff, you missed in history class a production of IHEART radio. Hello and welcome to the podcast I'm holly and I'm Tracy v Wilson and today's episode was requested approximately one hundred years ago. If you go by way of hyperbole by early scenario, either not really one hundred years ago, but it feels that way. It was a very long time and I have had it on my list throughout that time, but I am only just now getting to it for a variety of reasons, we are talking today about Levi Strauss and historians really historically interesting because it touches on a lot of important moments in US history so. So, he was an immigrant who ended up in a business that was impacted by and in turn, affected the US, civil war and including culture. He has a story that's tied to the Goldrush. She also had a vision for his adopted city of San Francisco that he worked really hard to achieve the future generations would benefit from it. and his life in many ways is the story of the United States in the nineteenth century from the perspective of Jewish immigrant who became a captain of industry. Before we get into his story, I will make confession. which is that until fairly recently, probably five years this Chicago? I thought Levi Strauss were two different people that have been business together a saying. So clearly I missed this in history class. Because even though people wear Levi's in, you'd call it, Levi. Strauss I didn't realize that was one person's proper name so I grew up in north. Carolina not all that far away from cone mills, which is who made the denim for Levi's five a lens for? Two hundred years or something so like this is a piece of history that is like a more steeped in I didn't have confusion about whether. Levi Strauss people. It's not my proudest moment, but in my defense, even though I am a close person, I don't think I owned a pair of jeans of any flavor from about. Nineteen eighty five until like two years ago. Like that's just never been my things. So That's that's my excuse poultry, though it may be that I just never examined Levi Strauss fit makes you feel better I thought. Hanna Barbera was one person with a woman. Oh now that'd be funny, but no, so Levi was born Lube Strauss on February twenty six of eighteen, twenty nine in Britain Germany his father. Hirsch Strauss was a salesman who sold household goods store door. As mother's name was Rebecca Haas Strauss, and both she and her screw up in Franconia. It's an area in the north of Modern Day Bavaria, which was predominantly Jewish Rebecca was her second wife his first wife. Mabel Bouwmans Strauss had died at the age of thirty five, leaving him with five children, then Hirsch and Rebecca had more children together a daughter, and then lube and Hirsch Rebecca and their seven children lived in a three room downstairs floor of a two story house. So this was the time when Bavaria is eighty. Addict or July was in effect that had started in the eighteen teens in this law seemed as though it offered Jewish citizens. Citizens the opportunity to pursue a number of jobs that had once been forbidden to them, but in return it also created really strict regulations for their lives among them. Marriage and immigration of Jews was severely limited. All Jews had to be registered. They had to take German names. They could not own land, and even their language was codified so all public records had to be kept in German they could not use Hebrew for those someone like her Strauss who traveled through the area, selling his wares, also served as messengers and his community connector's during this time, and in this profession Kirsch was sort of did from part of the you'd need it. Working as a peddler, which had been a traditional job Jewish men in the area for a long time, was no longer considered an acceptable career, but older people like Hirsch, who weren't able to pick up? A new profession were allowed to keep doing it. Yeah. It was expected that they would just eventually die off, and so would that profession. And all of the limitations of the Union edict eventually inspired immigration one of the marriage laws that really created a problem was the only the eldest son of any Jewish household could get married, and so there were some work arounds like if a another son that was younger, wanted to marry a widow that was acceptable, or if a couple that had no children wanted to give up the slot. To another family, so they can have two sons. Mary they could, but basically this really limited the entire societal culture, because these young women could not get married. All of these young men could not get married. It was frustrating so eventually they wanted to leave in eighteen, thirty seven. There was a group of eighteen people that left eighteen young people and two of loves older siblings were part of that they left Germany to make homes in London and New York. In nineteen, forty and nineteen, forty, one to more of the Strauss children followed suit. In eighteen, forty six hirsch died of tuberculosis. Rebecca remarried soon after two curses brother, who was a widower named Lipman but libman died just a few weeks after the wedding loeb was seventeen at that time and see if his sister were still living at home. An immigration at this point was not easy. You couldn't just pick up and leave the. Government had to approve anyone who wished to leave the country and new had to prove that neither you nor anyone in your family had any sort of criminal record, and that you could afford to make the trip on March seventeenth eighteenth. forty-seven Rebecca Strauss filed an immigration petition in which he stated that because she was a widow, she didn't have the financial support. Support Anymore. She didn't know how she would provide for her youngest son, but she had children in the United States. Who can help her? Get settled. There Lube was old enough to work and contribute to the family's finances once they arrived, and for his part Lube his own petition stating quote, no members of my family will stay behind I will share the. The fate that has been assigned to me with them in foreign lands I thus join my mother, and her plea on June, twenty, sixth, eighteen, forty seven rebecca and her children so lab, and his two sisters were approved for immigration, but they didn't leave immediately because Rebecca needed to make sure that the family that had gone onto New York had indeed made. Made preparations for the three of them to arrive and live there, they finally made their way in the spring of eighteen, forty eight, although the specifics of their transatlantic passage aren't really documented or known Jonas and Lewis Strauss libs brothers had both become dry goods merchants in the city. They'd opened up a shop at three, ninety three and a half Grand Street. Street but by the time the family arrived, they had moved to a more lucrative location at two three and a half division street may lived above the shop. Jonas had also gotten married and started his own family, and at some point, love followed the example that his siblings had any changed his name to a more Americanized version. This was not uncommon in in the eighteen fifty cents, as he is listed as Levi with a why he also started working in the family dry goods business while he was there, he learned English really quickly so that he could speak with business partners and customers, and he applied for U. S. citizenship justice. His brothers had done before him. The Strauss's dry goods business was. was doing really well. They moved to another new location near Union market in eighteen, fifty one, and as their family business was growing in new opportunity, was making itself apparent across the country as the California gold, rush, foster new towns, new prosperity and a need for dry goods, the Strauss. Brothers did not want to miss a chance to capitalize on this new. New, market, but they also needed to keep their established New York business going, and so the youngest brother of the family was sent West five days after he took his oath of citizenship on January thirty, first eighteen, fifty three loop Strauss, who was now going by Levi left New York for San Francisco aboard the US mail ship, Georgia, which was a steamer. And the family had already loaded shipment of merchandise aboard another ship called the winged racer for Levi to take possession of once he reached San Francisco. The clipper winged racer was sailing down around the tip of South America and the North California. Leave, I would make the trip less time traveling through. Panama was of course before the Panama. Canal was built, so he took the steamer. Steamer Georgia to Panama and then traveled across thin strip of the country to Panama City on the Pacific side. He got on another steamer. They're called the isthmus and that was bound for San Francisco. He arrived in San Francisco on March thirteenth, eighteen, fifty three. This was considered for a lot of people safer plan than travel overland from New York to San Francisco because People often did not survive that journey or if they did get California. They got their in pretty sorry shape This was a little bit of an easier booze and the specifics of Levi's first days in San, Francisco are also unknown. He would have needed to rent warehouse space for the goods that were coming in the the winged racer, and he would have needed to find lodgings for himself. He most likely had some letters of introduction to family connections that had already made that journey west, so it wasn't as though he just showed up and had to figure everything out by himself. He had some security. Security Net in place that merchandise that had been shipped showed up two weeks after Lebai dead on March thirtieth, unlike other merchants. You had to bid on merchandise shipped on SPEC once it got to the port at San Francisco. Levi knew what was coming. He just had to inspect it. Accept it and then move it into the warehouse. As he got to know the market California, he could ensure that future shipments contain items that would be the most likely to move to make the most money and for clarity Strauss's. We're not opening a retail shop San Francisco even though they had sort of a similar. One in new. York they were basically setting up a wholesale business that would sell stock to other merchants for their shops, so leave I had to invest time in developing really good relationships with other businessmen in the area, and he was twenty four at this point, he wasn't supporting a wife or family, so aside from attending synagogue and participating in social events primarily with San Francisco's Jewish community. All of his efforts could be focused on establishing the family's new west coast firm, and he wasn't only working with retailers in San. Francisco, either he also traveled inland to. To Sacramento and he paid visits to smaller mining towns to make deals with the shopkeepers there, and this was an ongoing practice for the business that he pretty much carried out forever. zoo in news broke of new or strikes or newtown, popping up Strauss was smart enough to go get into those towns that sprouted up in those places really quickly and forge those new business partnerships coming up. We'll talk more about how Levi Strauss set up the Strauss family business in San Francisco, but first we will take a little break for a word from sponsor. Support for stuffy missed in history class comes from our friends at rocket mortgage by quicken loans home. Today is so much more than it was yesterday, but it rocket mortgage home is still about you. During these challenging times where I'll experiencing the top priority at rocket mortgage, the health and safety of the communities they serve, and while things are changing quickly every day. One thing that will never change is their teams commitment to giving you the best mortgage experience possible. That's why if you need mortgage support their team of experts. To answer questions and offer solutions, they understand the hardships happen, and they are here to help whether that means working with you to save money on your mortgage or finding a new way to navigate payments. 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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. 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 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. 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 eight hundred 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. 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 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. To have offices in the city that we're actually separate from his warehouse. He was also taking shipments of raw materials from suppliers outside the Family which he then leveraged 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. 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 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 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. Moved into a new space that he purchased in eighteen, sixty seven was a four storey 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. 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 either. 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, most closely associated with today, which is blue jeans. I. We're going to have a quick sponsor break. In a world where everyone is confined to their homes, society begins its largest been watch to date. In the hallowed, Library of Hulu or perhaps on a shelf of DVD's you haven't looked at in a decade is a show. That perfectly encapsulates life in the early aunts and launched a friendship that would inspire millions. 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Jacob Davis, who presumably started out his Yaakob and Americanized his name when he got here was also a Jewish immigrant, then he had moved to the United States from Russia as a young man, he likely I also worked in dry goods as a cutter and a Taylor, although he had also dabbled in the brewery business in some other enterprises, he was also an inventor he had developed a screw based clothing fastener, and ironing board could also stretch clothes and a folding press. Press and those last two items were granted patents, but that fastener was not take had also expanded his tailoring work to make tenths and wagon covers to capitalize on the need for those kinds of goods in mining towns in Nevada. where he lived, he started making very sturdy, long-lasting trousers for Labor's out of duck and Denham. Duck is like a very densely woven cloth, and he eventually on the six suggestion relative started buying his duck yardage from Levi Strauss and company. Yes. Duck is usually compared to like a very densely woven canvas. Almost it's A. It's one of those things that. People still make work clothes out of sometimes I don't love it. It's a little stiff for my tastes. It's very sturdy. It will last a long time and to please one of his tailoring customers who came in to order work pants for her husband, who apparently wore through them at a pretty good clip. Davis used rivets to reinforce the pockets. The story goes that the wife came in because she said. My husband is worn out all his pants and cannot leave. The House I have to come places order. So she had to go back with a piece of string and Markley, his waistline and other measurements, and then bring it back to the shop, and she was delighted it appeared her husband was delighted Jacob leader soccer has been around town wearing these pants, so it seemed like everything was going great, and he included that detail, those riveted pockets on a number of other pairs of pants because people started. Started to see these pants town and asked where they came from, and could they also get the same ones? And so he started making these pants with duck canvas and riveted pockets for more and more people as the riveted pants pocket became popular with his customers. Davis decided he should patent them, but that was a really expensive process, and the story goes that his wife didn't want him to spend. Spend money that they didn't have trying to do it so along a payment on an invoice that he's into Levi Strauss and company. He also sent two pairs of pants with the proposition that the company applied for the patent in his name, and in return he would give the company half the rights to sell the pants. This is like the most trusting move I can possibly imagine someone doing i. I know here's this thing. I invented. I would like you to help me patent it by the way it's not padded yet, but here it is yet especially having been working on this day in history class, and recently recording episodes on people like Filo Farnsworth and Nikola Tesla like there are so many stories about a big business that's like GonNa. Take this patent for you for no money and X. Ray in a lecture that I was watching online of Levi Strauss biographer whose book I used for a lot of this, she was saying like to her. This really indicates how trustworthy Levi Strauss was perceived to be by people that. Just knew his name like he just had this reputation for being a really honest and good man, so this person completely trusted him with his invention and there it went, and Strauss was no fool. He went for the idea really quickly. He wrote up an agreement that gave the company Levi, Strauss and company exclusive rights to sell the pants on the west coast, and that quote rights outside of the Pacific Coast and territory shall be equally divided between ourselves and Davis Davis agreed to these terms, and made it very clear that this was not just about the rivets it was also about the cut and construction he offered to oversee the manufacturer of the pants either New York or in San Francisco. Whichever Strauss preferred in the first patent application filed on behalf of Davis, was rejected on the basis that the military had been using rivets in the construction of shoes already, and so that just using them on pockets was really not an innovation. Strauss did not accept this. He hired lawyers who specialized in patent law to appeal the case, but it was once again rejected in early, eighteen, seventy, three Strauss and Davis were preparing another. Go at a patent for these riveted. Pants Jacob Davis and his family moved San Francisco in May, a revised version of their application was submitted this time with more detail about the distinction between the riveting that they were using on clothes. Clothes and the way that rivets had been used on shoes just a few weeks later on May. Twentieth, Eighteen, seventy, three, the patent was td. Strauss paid Davis for the value of his home and store in Reno Nevada and the Davis made their move to San Francisco permanent so that Jacobs could oversee production of this new line of riveted trousers Strauss later sold this back to Davis for a dollar. Many flipped it. Yeah, it was a couple of years later, Davis bought back his house and shop in Reno and I think it was only like three months after that that he sold it. And at the time they marketed these new pants as overalls, and that were did not have the commutation of BIB overalls that it would have today They were sometimes called waist overalls. Basically, part of that was because you could wear them over other pants but people were them without pants underneath. It is well. The first batches went out in June of eighteen seventy three. Three so that was just a month after the patent was approved at nineteen, fifty per dozen pair, so nineteen dollars and fifty cents for a dozen of them. This was a substantial increase over previous market prices for similar garments more than a dollar. More than individual purchasers were used to seeing so for a a merchant that was the middleman to have to pay. That much per pant was significant. They really had to like explain. No, these are going to last you so long. They are way stronger am better than other pants. Strauss opened up a new factory location, so they can start more serious production the following month, a place, an ad for first class female sewing machine operators, these operators had to bring their own sewing machines that were suitable for heavy work. Yeah, he even in the advertisement they laid out which sewing machine models would be acceptable, and if you didn't have one of those, don't apply for the job. Soon Levi Strauss, and company also started selling riveted duck coats for hunting, and by the end of eighteen, seventy three, they had sold an estimated twenty thousand garments the pants that they were making it. The beginning bore pretty much all the characteristics we see on Levi's today, although they have shifted in style a little bit, so they had copper rivets. Mustard, orange thread for stitching in the curvy Shallow v stitching on the back pocket the year after Levi and Jacobs riveted overall hit the market. Levi was named by The New York Times as one of San Francisco's millionaires, he had also set up the company, which was basically functioning on its own as a separate entity from j Strauss brother in company. Co Partnership with his brothers so that they would have power of attorney and be able to make decisions about the business in the event that he was not able to yeah. He kind of realized. This has grown massive and I can't be the only one who makes decisions if something goes awry. And that same year Levi Strauss also sued a competitor who started using rivets in the construction of their pants that other manufacturer Abe L. Felt in company pulled all the product that they had made from shelves once that suit was filed, but Strauss continued the legal action anyway in order to deter others from infringing on the patent does a couple of years later Levi Strauss. And his brothers set up an East Coast Factory under Jacob Davis supervisions to make riveted goods, but in late eighteen seventy six, another manufacturer H, w King and companies started making riveted goods as well. Levi Strauss has company's numbers drop even as they brought. Brought an infringement suit against this other company. After a four year legal battle, the case was decided in favor of Levi Strauss and company. Yeah, that's a long time for that to drag out, but they were like we're going to do it. eventually they did start as their patents did not last forever, and they started realizing that they had to do branding so that their genes were completely recognizable from others and people could ask for them by look. That's how they develop their logo. They kind of knew they couldn't stave off other people using rivets forever so they've got very savvy about how they presented their clothes. There were also two more deaths in the Strauss family in eighteen, seventy, four Levi's brother-in-law and senior partner David Stern died in January, and in August one of David's sons, who was just eighteen died for reasons that have been lost to the historical record. And even as their losses, the family also continued to grow through marriage and children, and it reached a point where fourteen people were all living in Strauss's house, including himself, so they moved to a larger home on Leavenworth Street. In the eighteen seventies, Chinese immigrants in California were being viewed with increasing hostility as they competed for jobs with white laborers in the same market with fewer and fewer opportunities. In Eighteen, seventy six strauss was named an expose. That appeared in the daily morning. Call. The claim was that. Strauss was employing five hundred Chinese workers. A rebuttal appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle the following day, saying that the company employed exactly one Chinese person and that person was in a position that white laborers had quote again and again tried and failed to do that. Position was cutting the dense fabrics that were used to make these overalls. Generally Levi Strauss and company like a lot of manufacturers at the time, really stressed in their advertising. Their goods were made by white labor. Yeah, this was a whole problematic thing. We're GONNA talk about it a little more in a moment, but we've talked before also on the show about the racism. The became rampant particularly on the west coast of the United States during this time towards Asian immigrants, and he. He continued to do business with Chinese merchants. He did not seem to have an aversion to them at all or be racist towards them in terms of business partnerships, but he kind of knew that if he was like yes, Ninety Labor's that it would tank, the company because would not trust him anymore, so he was complicit in this whole system, but that doesn't seem to reflect a like a personal outward racism Rano. And in eighteen eighty, he worked on the committee that arranged the San Francisco Visit President Rutherford B Hayes. This was kind of funny because it was reported that Mr and Mrs Levi Strauss attended a dinner in the president's honor, but leave I never got married, so it is unclear if he had taken a female relative to this event or an acquaintance, or if the paper simply got the. The facts wrong and January of Eight, hundred eighty one. The San Francisco Bulletin published the details of Levi Strauss's funeral. There's one problem. He was very much alive at this point, initially, the sounds like a really funny mix up, but it was actually a really sad moment Levi's brother, Louis had been the one who had died and the paper had to publish a correction the next day. Three years later. The Strauss's sister fanny had been very close to leave I, also died, and the oldest sibling and founder of the family. Business Jonas Strauss died in eighteen, eighty, five like Levi. His siblings had also been really involved in philanthropic work. Yeah, WE'RE GONNA. Talk about his philanthropy in just a moment, but all of their obituaries talk about all of the places that they donated both money and time all of the causes they supported it definitely was a family affair in terms of lake, wanting a better community and a better future for the children that would come after another devastating loss came in eighteen, ninety three, when Levi's nephew Nathan, who had been running the New York offices for the. The firm shot himself in his office bathroom in while it eventually came out that he had lost a good bit of money. It was never discovered exactly how that had happened. There were certainly lots of rumors about how it might have happened, but there is no clear evidence is to actually what had led him to that moment. In one, thousand, nine, Hundred Levi, Strauss and company printed its first catalog. The business seemed to have no limit to its potential. At this point he weathered a Labor strike that took place throughout the city that year in one, thousand, nine, hundred two, he also joined with other community leaders to speak out against making the provision of the eighteen ninety two Gerry Act permanent. The gear, EAC had extended the provisions of the eighteen eighty two Chinese. Asian Act and we've talked about the Chinese exclusion act on the show before. The telegram that was sent by Strauss and his colleagues to Washington DC, stated that barring legitimate Chinese merchants was an injustice. This pleaded not have the desired effect, though the extension of the Geary Act came through. Yeah, and there's discussion of just how much this was like an activist moment versus year stupid to turn away business. That's going to help our country. Particularly our community grow but he. He did speak out against it even though that did not play out the way they had hoped. In September, of Nineteen, ninety-two Levi's Strauss was diagnosed after feeling a little unwell for a bit with a slight congestion of the liver, and it was believed that he was going to recover. Any did start to feel better and two days after a doctor had visited and given him this diagnosis. Levi Strauss died after eating dinner with his family and then returning to bed. He was interred at the family mausoleum at the home of peace cemetery after a funeral at his home, and his four surviving nephews inherited the business and his fortune his nieces. A significant sum to be given directly to them, and not to their spouses or other male relatives for management that was something that one of his brothers had done as well, and he also left money to all of the various charities that he had worked with over the years. So I will tell you, and if you've listened to this podcast for any period of time, you can understand why that is I researched this episode. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because we have so many instances of really interesting, seeming people that, then in the course of actually digging into their biography, we find out some horrifying thing that they did or were part of. Here's the secret evil. I didn't think I was signing up for with the. Right Oh! I thought this was like. No, they're horrible. And while Levi, Strauss was certainly a shrewd businessman who did look after the interests of his company. He also seems to have been a genuinely nice and pretty good human, being Shirley not faultless, but I kept expecting some horrific thing to appear, and it didn't. Get. We've got plenty of things that like we said were problematic like being like. Oh, no, we only employees white people that yeah that that's not great, but it also. Was Not, a case of like. Let me literally enslaved people in the basement which. Seems like. A that's more often than not the story. We accidentally wind up telling. And his prosperity Levi Strauss held the Jewish ideology of benevolence. He donated money to worthy causes in the San Francisco community, both those run by various iterations of Jewish, benevolent associations and Jewish charities as well. Yeah, he actually started donating money almost as soon as he started making money after he moved to California it seemed to have been something that was deeply important to him. In the eighteen sixties, he donated to the US Sanitary Commission to help Clean Up Union camps. Camps to minimize the rampant disease there he advocated for and participated in a shutdown of businesses in San Francisco on Election Day on November, eighth, eighteen, sixty four. That was the election that Lincoln one for what would have been his second term. He was also one of the founders of the Concordia, society which began in January of eighteen, sixty five, which is the place where Jewish leaders and professionals could gather for social and Educational Events Strauss was the club's first vice president. That was another one of those institutions that was really forward facing in terms of looking to the future. They also wanted to make sure that. young Jewish professionals could come in and learn from mentors and get a support system to help them succeed, and he became increasingly involved in community, government and politics over the years. He seemed to think it was his responsibility as a successful person, he was a vocal supporter of the Hawaiian Reciprocity Treaty of Eighteen, seventy five, which removed tariffs on goods traded between the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the US and he also advocated for building regulations that would reduce the risk of fire spreading in the increasingly tightly packed city he had. Had fires himself. That impacted his properties, and so of course those efforts had benefit to other people, but they also benefited his personal business. He also drummed up donations for the Garfield. Monument Fund Association donated to orphanages and helped set up the labor exchange, which was a group that was intended to help the unemployed men of the city make connections to find temporary and permanent work. You also became heavily involved in the Society for the prevention of Cruelty to children, which was incorporated in Eighteen, seventy six. He served in one. One leadership role or another, with the Organization for the rest of his life that was particularly important one to him and as the eighteen ninety s had moved on Strauss had stayed busy, even though he was going through a lot of family tragedy at the time, he was working with other merchants and civic leaders to actualize infrastructure projects, including a railroad to compete with the Southern Pacific. He knew that a city that was appealing to new residents would mean sustained growth for the businesses there, so he was constantly donating both. Both his personal money, and on behalf of Levi Strauss and company to the creation of things like parks or the improvement of public spaces, and he supported efforts like the pioneer kindergarten society, because he knew that educating children was a vital part of making a future for the city. He was not only interested in early childhood education, though he also donated to the University of California Berkeley so they can keep their library open longer hours, and He created a scholarship fund at that school that Levi Strauss scholarship continues to this day. One of Strauss's employees named Henry Richmond later wrote of him quote. Strauss was very quiet, affable, always immaculately dressed. And, he apparently did not like to be called Mr Strauss. He wanted everybody to just call him Levi. He seems like a lovely lovely gentleman and I also wanted to include as our final note, appoint of Trivia related to one of our previous episodes, because Levi Strauss was a founding member of the Pacific coast. Auxiliary of the Jewish Publication Society of America and another member of that group was Ferdinand. Foch lists farther. Alice veto cliffs. It's one of those moments where you just see all the history puzzle pieces starting to Click together foul connected. Yes and Levi Strauss is so connected in many ways like that to California history because you know he was. on all sorts of like public works, committees and efforts with you know people like Stanford and other other famous people that really formed a lot of the foundation of Kenya's. We know it today. Thank you so much for joining us today for this classic. If you have heard any kind of email address or maybe a facebook url during the course of the episode that might be obsolete. 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