John Diedrich Spreckels: A Titan of two cities
Teddy Roosevelt spent decades fighting "malefactors of great wealth," business giants who were "cynically and brutally indifferent to the interests of the people." Claus Spreckels, the tough and obstinate Sugar King, fit Roosevelt's profile to a T. His eldest son, John, did not. Benefactor of great cities might have been closer to the mark. J.D. was born in Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 16, 1853. Three years later the family moved to San Francisco, where J.D. attended public school. At 10 he accompanied his father on a trip to Europe. The voyage across the Atlantic left an indelible mark on J.D.; ships and oceans would play a major role in his life. When John was 14, Claus sent him to Europe to continue his education at the Polytechnic in Hanover. J.D. crossed the country and the Atlantic alone.