As an invited lecturer for the Oxford Centre for the Global History of Capitalism Project, Dr. Tiemann has written a teaching note Case Study, in conjunction with Dr. Oenone Kubie, that he will be teaching at Oxford in October, 2020. This Case Study covers much of the history that Dr. Tiemann has been studying around the period of the American Gold Rush, which catalyzed the transformation of California into an economic power by the end of the 19th century. In particular, the note takes a look at William A. Leidesdorff, who arrived in the area in the early 1840s and built a successful business as a steamboat operator, hotel owner and merchant, despite a dire lack of cash, coins, checks, banks, or banking services. This case study is made available by Oxford under a Creative Commons Copyright.
In recent months, Dr. Tiemann has been conducting research into the socio-economic and banking history of the California Gold Rush. He plans to produce a series of articles and, possibly, a book 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.