Joseph-Yves Limantour, San Francisco's richest man?
In the mid-19th century, a Breton captain, Joseph-Yves Limantour, was the owner of more than half of San Francisco and the islands of the Bay. He went on to make his fortune in Mexico, where his son became a minister, after his claim to be one of the world's richest men was overturned by an American court.
We know very few details about the youth of Joseph-Yves Limantour, born in 1812, in Ploemeur, Brittany, France. He was the eldest of a family of six children and his father was a guard in the port of Lorient. At 19, like many inhabitants of the Lorient region he joined the merchant navy.
For 5 years, he sailed in the Atlantic transporting goods and people between Vera Cruz and France. In 1836, after crossing Cape Horn, he continued his shipping activities based in Lima, Peru. As a trader and ship captain, he explored new economic opportunities along the Pacific coasts, from Valparaiso (Chile) to California. On October 26, 1841, his schooner, the Ayacucho, ran aground at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. A dense fog had caused him to miss the famous Golden Gate, at the entrance of the Bay. With his men, he traveled to Sausalito where he chartered a boat to collect his shipwrecked merchandise: silks, spirits, equipment and food that had been destined for settlers. The salvage was a considerable success and he was eventually able to make significant profits from his sales leading him to stay in the Yerba Buena pueblo for a year. At the time California was part of Mexico and in 1842, Limantour loaned money to the Mexican governor, Manuel Micheltorena, who offered land in the area in lieu of payment.
By 1830, American settlers began to arrive in California leading to greater tensions between the United States and Mexico. During the American-Mexican War (1846-1848), Limantour picked sides and offered his services to the Mexican army by delivering arms, ammunition and food. Short of cash, the Mexican governor of California continued to pay debts to Limantour by granting him land titles. In 1847, the American warship Warren boarded his ship, but he dumped his cargo of weapons in the ocean before they were discovered.
California becomes the 31st US state
Between 1840 and 1850, Joseph-Yves Limantour owned more than one million hectares in the San Francisco area, which made him one of the richest men in the world. But picking the right side was important, and Limantour hadn't.
On July 4, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was proclaimed between the USA and Mexico. The treaty called for the United States to pay $15 million dollars to Mexico and to pay off the claims of American citizens against Mexico up to $5 million dollars. It gave the United States the Rio Grande as a boundary for Texas, and gave the U.S. ownership of California and a large area comprising roughly half of New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Mexicans in those annexed areas had the choice of relocating to within Mexico's new boundaries or receiving American citizenship with full civil rights (over 90% chose American citizenship). The treaty was also suppose to ensure safety of existing property rights of Mexican citizens living in the transferred territories. Despite assurances to the contrary, the property rights of Mexican citizens were often not honored by the U.S. in accordance with modifications to and interpretations of the Treaty. In 1851, California became the 31st state of the United States of America.
Limantour, one of the richest man in the world?
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, and lasted until 1855. The discovery of gold drew nearly 300,000 people from all over the United States and the world to California. The sudden influx of gold into the money supply re-energized the American economy, and California's rapid ascension to statehood was aided by the sudden rise in population. With the Gold Rush the value of land in California skyrocketed hindering Limantour's land claims that needed to be confirmed in US courts.
On February 5, 1853, Joseph-Yves Limantour presented 57 title deeds (75,000 hectares) to the Land Commission in charge of verifying and confirming the concession titles issued during the Mexican era: 2/3 of the city of San Francisco, the islands of Alcatraz, Yerba Buena and Farrallones, the peninsula of Tiburon, Cape Mendocino, the Laguna de Tache (in Fresno), the county of Solano (between Vallejo and Sacramento) and the Cienega Valley.
To everyone's surprise, in January 1856, the Limantour's title claims relating to the concessions of San Francisco, the islands of Alcatraz and the Farrallones were validated. Panic quickly ensued amongst the population of San Francisco who, since the Gold Rush of 1848, had unwittingly settled on land belonging to the famous Breton merchant.
Hundreds of them decided to buy back their land, helping Limantour accumulate a sizable fortune.
Limantour's victory would only be short lived. The American government had established federal buildings (customs post, military fort, federal bank, etc.) in San Francisco and had no desire to pay Limantour for the land under those new buildings. They requested an appeal to the Land Commission's decision. On November 19, 1858, the Commission reversed its decision of 1856 and declared the Limantour concessions unfounded and that his titles had been fabricated.
If not for his court defeats, Joseph-Yves Limantour would have been the second or third richest man in the world during his lifetime, some American economists have estimated.
He would lick his wounds comfortably in exile in Mexico. He business activities and contacts like the general Porfiro Diaz (President & Dictator of Mexico) helped him amass a sizable fortune. In 1884, he had returned to Brittany, France with his wife, his son José-Yves, his daughter-in-law and her parents. They spent several weeks in the Lorient area, where he reconnected with relatives and the places of his childhood.
He never returned to California but you can still visit where it all started when he shipwrecked. Limantour Beach is a long narrow stretch of sand, backed by low cliffs located between Drakes Bay and an estuary.
Learn more about Breton-American history.
Beaucoup de gens croient que l’affaire Fañch, c’est à dire l’acceptation du tilde sur le n du prénom breton dans l’état civil français est une affaire classée. C’est totalement faux.
Depuis Mai 2017, l’affaire Fañch a déclenché une tempête juridique et médiatique démesurée qui a largement dépassé les limites de la Bretagne. Fañch, c’est ce petit garçon né à Quimper à qui on a donné le nom de son grand-père. Mais le fait d’inscrire le tilde sur le n dans l’orthographe bretonne conventionnelle a déclenché les foudres de la justice. Le tilde menace « l’unité du pays » selon la juge de première instance de Quimper. « Le tilde n’est pas inconnu de la langue française » réplique la Cour d’Appel de Rennes. La cour de Cassation prétexte un vice de forme pour ne pas se prononcer.
En 2020, l’affaire continue à mobiliser les hommes politiques bretons qui doivent franchir d’innombrables obstacles pour faire admettre l’évidence : le breton est une des langues de France et son orthographe doit être respectée quant au tilde il est bien utilisé dans la langue française depuis plus de mille ans.
Bernez Rouz, président du Conseil Culturel de Bretagne a été un des premiers à produire des arguments convaincants sur cette affaire hors norme, en faisant appel à l’histoire des langue s française et bretonne mais aussi aux plus élémentaires droits de l’homme, aux droits linguistiques et culturels.
Une affaire Fañch aux USA
L’affaire Fañch est suivie de près par les média espagnols, portugais et basques. Car l’acceptation du tilde comme signe diacritique de la langue française signifierait la fin de l’ostracisme envers les prénoms et noms d’origine ibérique.
L’affaire concerne aussi les États-Unis car la majorité des états n’acceptent que les signes diacritiques anglais, d’autres par contre acceptent d’autres signes diacritiques dont le tilde. Si 17,6 % des Américains sont d’origine hispaniques, certains états comme le Nouveau Mexique, le Nevada, l’Arizona dépasse les 30 %.
Le débat fait rage en Californie ou l’Anglais est langue officielle de l’état depuis 1986. José Medina, un parlementaire hispanique a fait voter une loi pour reconnaitre le ñ dans les documents officiels par 69 voix pour et deux contre. Le gouverneur a jeté son veto sur cette loi, le 10 septembre 2017, c’est à dire au même moment que la décision du juge de Quimper. Cette fois ci ce n’est pas l’unité nationale de la Californie qui est en jeu mais un problème financier car il faudrait parait-il changer le système informatique d’enregistrement. C’est exactement le même argument qu’a avancé notre bien nommé ministre Nuñez devant le sénat.
José Medina avait pourtant bien précisé que dans sa loi, tous les signes diacritiques étaient présents sur les claviers d’ordinateur, et ne demandaient donc aucun changement de matériel.
Tous les arguments développés par le député californien sont en ligne. [Lire plus]
Ils peuvent être repris mot pour mot pour défendre notre identité en respectant les prénoms d’origine, et l’orthographe des langues de France.
Le tilde est un combat sans frontière ! 💪
FAÑCH : LE PRÉNOM BRETON QUI FAIT TREMBLER LA RÉPUBLIQUE
Depuis mai 2017, l'affaire Fañch a déclenché une tempête juridique et médiatique démesurée qui a largement dépassée les limites de la Bretagne. Fañch, c'est ce petit garçon né à Quimper à qui on a donné le prénom de son grand-père. Mais le fait d'inscrire le tilde sur le "n" dans l'orthographe bretonne conventionnelle a engendré les foudres de la justice.
Celtic, Swing, and Jazz: Brittany’s Strongest Trad Players Team up with California Jazz Artist for Collaborative Breizh Amerika Tour of California
Brittany, France’s farthermost western province with its Celtic roots and language and strong regional culture, prides itself on its unique identity. Yet non-profit organization Breizh Amerika—part international business accelerator, part cultural collaboration instigator--is devoted to highlighting the strong similarities between Brittany and the many cultures and scenes in the US.
The half-decade old program has paired up Breton folk musicians with Garifuna drum ensembles, a dialog between minority communities fighting to keep their languages and powerful musical heritage alive. It took Breton artists to once (and in some cases still) Francophone and Breton-influenced areas of the US, from St. Louis to New Orleans. It has toured these unexpected musical conversations on the East Coast and through the Midwest for Fête de la Bretagne..
Now the initiative returns with a musical exploration of how traditional Breton tunes can speak to and through jazz. Thanks to a close musical friendship between accordion whiz kid Thomas Moisson and SF jazz mainstay, bassist Joe Kyle, the Breizh party is coming to the West Coast with several performances and educational residencies in San Diego and San Francisco this May. Joining them on keys will be Breton composer and performer Julien Le Mentec, who has played around the world at festivals and backed up tradition-inspired performers like Goran Bregovic and Carlos Nunez, as well as champion bombarde player Gweltaz Rialland who has translated his stunning traditional reed chops to alto sax.
“When you put Breton artists together with artists from all different American backgrounds, to have them play and perform together, you are more or less demonstrating how people are similar,” reflects Breizh Amerika founder and driving force Charles Kergaravat, born in New York to Breton parents. “American audiences love it because we look for the commonality between people. The current global climate of division and mistrust has made us want to spotlight our similarities.”
Building relationships where none existed before and crafting new repertoire from long-standing sets of tunes and songs is not for the faint at heart. “You have to be a little mad, a little crazy,” chuckles Kergaravat. “We’re not just performing music from Brittany, which in itself is very, very rare in the US, but we’re also getting Americans involved who may have never heard Breton music before. They connect it to what they know and hear new things, and then they become great ambassadors for the music. I like the openness and the structure of our projects obliges Breton musicians to engage with it. It breaks them out of their scene, their comfort zone.”
The newly formed ensemble will perform traditional concerts, but also engage young listeners and learners at school programs. The tour coincides with an exhibit dedicated to the Bretons who shaped California, as part of the early history of the Bay Area—a Breton rancher once owned wide swaths of what’s now San Francisco—and the Gold Rush. After their American performances, the project will head to Brittany to play the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, one of Europe’s biggest music festivals, with an audience that often reaches 800,000.
Though few Americans have had a chance to experience Breton music, Kergaravat and his collaborators have noticed a pattern: US audiences tend to be truly enthused and effusively share this enthusiasm with visiting musicians, an attitude starkly different from the more staid receptions back home. “Americans are often genuinely curious and excited, and they don’t hesitate to share that with the musicians,” says Kergaravat. “It has made the Breton artists see their own work in a new light.”
Upcoming shows : https://www.breizh-amerika.com/the-collective.html
Les Bretons sont partout, y compris à San Francisco. Mais jusqu’à présent, ils n’avaient pas d’association pour se regrouper. C’est désormais chose faîte. Breizh Amerika San Francisco organise son premier dîner le mercredi 13 décembre au bistro Garçon, dans le quartier de Mission à San Francisco.
Bretons et amis et le Bretagne sont conviés.
Pendant le repas, les fondateurs présenteront les futures activités de l’association et les temps forts à venir, comme la fête de la Bretagne du samedi 19 mai au dimanche 27 mai 2018. Outre sa mission de promotion culturelle, Breizh Amerika veut également favoriser les échanges économiques entre San Francisco et la Bretagne.
Mercredi 13 décembre 2017
Soirée de Noël de Breizh Amerika San Francisco
Sur réservations (nombre de places limité)
Heure : 07:30 PM
Lieu : Bistro Garçon
Adresse : 1101 Valencia St, San Francisco
is an organization established to create, facilitate, promote, and sponsor wide-ranging innovative and collaborative cultural and economic projects that strengthen and foster relations and cooperation between the United States of America and the region of Brittany, France.