The name of Samuel Brannan is known for several reasons. He was the first journalist to start a paper in San Francisco which made him the first publicist and he was also its first Millionaire of the gold rush. He was known to be quite a character and full of energy. He greatly influenced Sand Francisco as well as California in general. He is not considered to have been a “bad man” although he was straightforward and often shrewd in his business dealings. He also is known for Charity and liberality and was known for being a very brave man as well.
Brannan learned his trade of printing while in Ohio. He joined the Mormon Church, and then moved to New York to start the Messenger, which was a newspaper for the Latter Day Saints. When Joseph Smith, Jr. was murdered in 1844, the Mormons left their seat in Illinois. They moved to the Mexican Territory of California where Brannan settled in San Francisco. Besides being known to have created the first San Francisco Newspaper, he also founded the first school there. In 1847 he opened a store in Sutter’s Fort (Sacramento).
Since Brannan was a representative of the LDS church, when gold was discovered he was able to collect the tithes of the LDS workers. Brannan bought every shovel in San Francisco and ran through the streets yelling “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!” He went on to buy many more stores and was eventually elected to the first town council of San Francisco. He was elected to the Senate in 1853. He built the first “Cliff House” in San Francisco in 1858.
In an act almost unheard of at the time, during his divorce, Brannan lost half of his personal fortune when the courts ruled that his wife was entitled to half of their holdings, payable in cash.