Abstract: Claus Spreckels: A Biographical Case Study of Nineteenth-Century American Immigrant Entrepreneurship
Claus Spreckels (1828-1908) was perhaps the most successful German-American immigrant entrepreneur of the late nineteenth century. The career of the "sugar king" consisted of California, Hawaii, and the American West building and breaking monopolies in sugar, transport, gas, electricity, real estate, newspapers, banks, and breweries. This essay uses a biographical approach to discuss central questions of American immigrant entrepreneurship. First, it analyzes the family and ethnic background of Spreckels' business. Second, it examines the business development of his widespread investments. Finally, it discusses the significance of Spreckels' immigrant status and experience for his successful career.