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Status: Emigration from Southwest-Germany > Famous Emigrants > Johann August Sutter

Johann August Sutter

"The Emperor of California"
Geburtshaus von J. Sutter; Alte Papiermühle in Kandern
Staatsarchiv Freiburg B 725/14 Nr. 2

Birthplace of J. Sutter: old papermill in Kandern, Staatsarchiv Freiburg B 725/14 Nr. 2

Johann August Sutter, born in 1803 in Kandern, being pressed for payment by many of this creditors emigrated to the New World in 1834. After many adventurous years in the west he reached California in 1839, where he founded the colony New Helvetia near the Sacramento river. The Governor of Mexico made him the representative of the Government, which - in the years to come - added to his wealth as a landowner. He was proudly called the "Emperor of California". Although in 1848 gold was found on his land and then thousands of golddiggers invaded the country his wealth was considerably diminished within a very short time. Long trials to prove the legitimacy of his property ruined him economically, so that his son had to support him. In 1880 (July 18) Sutter died in Washington, a poor and embittered man. In his essay "The discovery of Eldorado" Stefan Zweig has left him a literary monument.


About Johann August Sutter see: Stefan Zweig, Sternstunden der Menschheit, Berlin/Frankfurt 1949, S.129-139; new editions are available in bookstores.