||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2012)|
March 2, 1819|
Saco, Maine, United States
|Died||May 14, 1889
Escondido, California, California, United States
|Resting place||Mount Hope Cemetery, San Diego, California, United States|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Eliza Corwin|
Samuel Brannan (March 2, 1819 – May 14, 1889) was an American settler, businessman, and journalist, who founded the California Star newspaper in San Francisco, California. He is considered the first publicist of the California Gold Rush and was its first millionaire.
Brannan was a colorful, energetic figure in the mid-19th-century history of California and especially of San Francisco.
- "He probably did more for [San Francisco] and for other places than was effected by the combined efforts of scores of better men; and indeed, in many respects he was not a bad man, being as a rule straightforward as well as shrewd in his dealings, as famous for his acts of charity and open-handed liberality as for in enterprise, giving also frequent proofs of personal bravery." 
Early career 
Brannan was born in Saco, Maine, about a year before its independence from Massachusetts. When he was 14 years old, he moved with his sister to Kirtland, Ohio, where Brannan learned the printer's trade. There, he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brannan moved to New York City, New York, in 1844, and began printing The Prophet (later The New-York Messenger), a Latter Day Saint newspaper.
After the murder of church leader Joseph Smith, Jr., in June 1844, the Latter Day Saints decided to relocate their center from Nauvoo, Illinois. Several possible destinations were discussed, including the Mexican territory of Alta California. In February 1846, with the approval of church leaders, Brannan and 245 other Latter Day Saints from New York set sail aboard the ship Brooklyn for upper California via Cape Horn. Brannan had an antiquated printing press and a complete flour mill on board. After a stop in Honolulu, Hawaii, they landed, on July 31, 1846, at the Mexican port town of Yerba Buena, present-day San Francisco, tripling the population of the pueblo. Brannan was appointed as the first mission president of the California LDS Mission.
California career 
Brannan used his press to establish the California Star as the first newspaper in San Francisco. It was the second paper in Alta California, following The Californian founded in Monterey and first published on August 15, 1846. The two joined to become The Daily Alta California in 1848. He also established the first school in San Francisco. In 1847, he opened a store at Sutter's Fort, near present-day Sacramento, California.
In June 1847, Brannan traveled overland to Green River, Wyoming, to meet with Brigham Young, the head of the LDS Church, who was leading the first contingent of Mormon pioneers across the plains to the Great Basin region. Brannan urged Young to bring the Mormon pioneers to California but Young rejected the proposal in favor of settling in what is today Utah, and Brannan returned to northern California.
California Gold Rush 
Early in 1848, employees of John Sutter paid for goods in his store with gold they had found at Sutter's Mill, near Coloma, California. Brannan went to the mill and, as a representative of the LDS Church, he received the tithes of the LDS workers there from the gold they had found in their spare time. His California Star paper could not publish the news as the staff had already left for the gold fields.
San Francisco 
Brannan had opened more stores to sell goods to the miners (his Sutter Fort store sold US$150,000 a month in 1849), and began buying land in San Francisco. At about this time, Brannan was accused[who?] of diverting church money, including collected tithes, to fund his private ventures. An LDS envoy was sent to Brannan who reportedly[who?] told them, "You go back and tell Brigham Young that I'll give up the Lord's money when he sends me a receipt signed by the Lord", although historians, such as Will Bagley have found this is likely just legend. Brannan was elected to the first town council of San Francisco in the new U.S. territory. After a series of sensational crimes in the area, he helped organize the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance, which functioned as a de facto police force. A squatter was murdered by the vigilante group and, although Brannan may not have pulled the trigger, he was considered the instigator and was subsequently disfellowshipped from the LDS Church for the vigilante violence.
In 1851, Brannan visited Hawaii, and purchased large amounts of land in Honolulu. In 1853, he was elected as a Senator to the California State Senate in the new state's capital of Sacramento. He was involved in developing trade with China and financial agreements with Mexico, founding the Society of California Pioneers, and developing banks, railroads and telegraph companies in California. In 1858, Brannan built the first incarnation of the famous Cliff House on the Pacific Ocean in undeveloped western San Francisco.
After Brannan visited the hot springs in the upper Napa Valley in 1859, Brannan planned a new resort for there. He bought land containing the springs in the northern portion of the Rancho Carne Humana, and founded the town of Calistoga, said to be a combination of the words "California" and then-fashionable "Saratoga" Springs in New York. Brannan also founded the Napa Valley Railroad there in 1864 in order to provide tourists with an easier way to reach Calistoga from the San Francisco Bay ferry boats that docked in the lower Napa Valley of San Francisco Bay at Vallejo. The railroad was later sold at a foreclosure sale, in Napa County in 1869.
In 1868, Brannan became one of the principal investors in the Robinson Trust, that purchased and initiated development of the major coastal Los Angeles County land holdings of Californio Abel Stearns, near the San Pedro Bay in Southern California.
In 1872, Anna Eliza Corwin divorced Brannan. He lost much of his personal fortune after his divorce, as it was ruled that his wife was entitled to half of their holdings, payable in cash. Because the vast majority of Brannan's holdings were in real estate, he had to liquidate the properties to pay the full divorce settlement.
Southern California 
Following the divorce, he became a brewer, then developed a problem with alcohol. Forsaking the city he helped develop into San Francisco, he drifted to San Diego, California, remarried and set up a small ranch near the Mexican border, where he engaged in land speculation with the Mexican government in the state of Sonora, Mexico. In 1888, at the age of sixty-nine, he was paid the sum of forty-nine thousand dollars in interest from the Mexican government. He quit drinking, paid all his debts, and died without leaving enough money to pay his own funeral.
Death and legacy 
- Many locations in California are named after Brannan, including Brannan Street in San Francisco, Brannan Island, Brannan Bluff—Table Bluff, Brannan Creek, Brannan Mountain, Brannan Springs, and Brannan River; there is also a Sam Brannan Middle School in Sacramento.
- California cities that claim Brannan as their founder include Calistoga, and Yuba City.
- In partnership with John Augustus Sutter, Jr. and with William Tecumseh Sherman and Edward Ord as surveyors, Brannan laid out the unofficial subdivisions that became the city of Sacramento.
See also 
- Bagley, Will. "'Every Thing Is Favourable! And God Is on Our Side': Samuel Brannan and the Conquest of California." Journal of Mormon History 23, no. 2 (1997): 185–209.
- Bagley, Will, ed. Scoundrel's Tale: The Samuel Brannan Papers. Spokane, WA: Arthur H. Clark, 1999. ISBN 0-87062-287-0. (Also published by Utah State University Press.)
- Bringhurst, Newell G. (Summer 1997), "Samuel Brannan and His Forgotten Final Years", Southern California Quarterly 79: 139–60.
- Campbell, Eugene E. (April 1959), "The Apostasy of Samuel Brannan", Utah Historical Quarterly 27 (2): 156–67.
- Dickson, Samuel. Tales of San Francisco. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1957.
- Luce, W. Ray (August 1968), Samuel Brannan: Speculator in Mexican Lands, Master's thesis, Provo, Utah: Department of History, Brigham Young University.
- Scott, Reva Lucile Holdaway (1944), Samuel Brannan and the Golden Fleece (2nd ed.), New York: Macmillan.
- PBS - The West - Samuel Brannan
- based on a San Diego Union article, republished in Sacramento Bee
- California Gold Rush Profile - 1st millionaire dies broke
- California Newspaper Hall of Fame - Sam Brannan
- Historynet.com/ Latter Day Scoundrel
- Register of the Samuel Brannan Papers at Brigham Young University