Angelo Joseph Rossi

Last updated
Angelo Joseph Rossi
Angelo Joseph Rossi.jpg
31st Mayor of San Francisco
In office
January 7, 1931 January 8, 1944
Preceded by James Rolph
Succeeded by Roger Lapham
Personal details
Born(1878-01-22)January 22, 1878
Volcano, California
DiedApril 5, 1948(1948-04-05) (aged 70)
San Francisco, California
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)Grace Mabel Allen; children: Eleanor Rossi Crabtree, Clarence Rossi, Rosamond Rossi Cleese

Angelo Joseph Rossi (January 22, 1878 April 5, 1948) was a U.S. political figure who served as the 31st mayor of San Francisco. He was the first mayor of 100% Italian descent of a major U.S. city (top 10 most populous U.S. cities between 1776 and 1931).

In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town.


Life and career

Rossi was born in Volcano, Amador County, California, and came to San Francisco in 1890 with his widowed mother and six siblings after the family home and general store burned to the ground in minutes. (His father, also named Angelo, left Italy in 1849 at the age of 16 aboard a ship loaded with marble that departed from Genoa. When he arrived in Amador County, he mined for gold and opened his general store.) When Angelo arrived in San Francisco with his family in 1890, he attended school but left after 6th grade to work in jobs that ranged from cash boy to a clerk in a couple of different florist shops, including Carbone and Sons and Pelicano and Sons, which became Pelicano and Rossi when he became a partner in the early 1900s. Eventually he opened his own company, Angelo J. Rossi, Inc., and during his tenure in office the florist company continued to operate in a sparkling Art Deco-motif building Angelo owned at 45 Grant Avenue.

Volcano, California census-designated place in California, United States

Volcano is a census-designated place in Amador County, California. It lies at an elevation of 2070 feet. The population was 115 at the 2010 census. It is located at 38°26′35″N120°37′51″W, just north of Pine Grove. The town is registered as a California Historical Landmark. The community is in ZIP code 95689 and area code 209.

Amador County, California County in California

Amador County, is a county in the U.S. state of California, in the Sierra Nevada. As of the 2010 census, the population was 38,091. The county seat is Jackson.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

He was first appointed mayor when mayor James Rolph resigned to become Governor of California in January, 1931. After completing the remaining year of Rolph's term, Rossi was elected in his own right as mayor in November 1931. He was reelected mayor for second and third full terms in 1935 and 1939 respectively. Running for a fourth term as mayor in 1943, he was defeated when a protégé of his, George Reilly, ran against him, splitting the Catholic vote, and when Roger Lapham was tapped by business interests to run, in part to advance their cause regarding the City's purchase of the Market Street Railway.

James Rolph California politician

James "Sunny Jim" Rolph Jr. was an American politician and a member of the Republican Party. He was elected to a single term as the 27th governor of California from January 6, 1931 until his death on June 2, 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. Previously, Rolph had been the 30th mayor of San Francisco from January 8, 1912 until his resignation to become governor. Rolph remains the longest-serving mayor in San Francisco history.

A Republican, he served as San Francisco's mayor from 1931 to 1944. Rossi was mayor when the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge were built, and he presided over the building of Treasure Island and the Golden Gate International Exposition (World's Fair) of 1939. Under his administration, the city resisted compliance with the Raker Act which required San Francisco to sell power from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite to municipalities or municipal water districts, and not to any corporations, a condition of use of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. He dedicated the Mount Davidson Cross in March, 1934. He was a strong proponent of the New Deal alphabet-soup roster of work programs and worked vigorously and constantly with Washington to bring as many dollars to the City as possible in order to create jobs and improve the City's infrastructure.

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

Golden Gate Bridge suspension bridge on the San Francisco Bay

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge pair of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay of California, USA

The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, known locally as the Bay Bridge, is a complex of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay in California. As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries about 260,000 vehicles a day on its two decks. It has one of the longest spans in the United States.

Political campaign card of 1921 showing Board of Supervisor candidates, including Angelo J. Rossi Margaret Mary Morgan political campaign card, 1921 -reverse.JPG
Political campaign card of 1921 showing Board of Supervisor candidates, including Angelo J. Rossi

Rossi was adamantly anti-Communist, and labeled the more militant labor organizing and strikes as the work of agitators. During the July San Francisco general strike of 1934, Rossi organized a committee to thwart the strike and move freight; he called on Governor Merriam to send the National Guard to quell the strike, but argued successfully against the governor who wanted to declare martial law. Two strikers were killed by bullets, and eighty-five were hospitalized.

Frank Merriam 28th Governor of California

Frank Finley Merriam was an American politician who served as the 28th governor of California from June 2, 1934 until January 2, 1939. Assuming the governorship at the height of the Great Depression following the death of Governor James Rolph, Merriam famously defeated the 'muck-raking' author of The Jungle, former Socialist Party member, and Democratic candidate Upton Sinclair in the California gubernatorial election in 1934. Merriam also served as the State Auditor of Iowa from 1900 to 1903, and served in both the Iowa and California state legislatures.

United States National Guard Reserve force of the United States Army and Air Force

The United States National Guard, also commonly referred to as just the National Guard, is part of the reserve components of the United States Armed Forces. It is a reserve military force, composed of National Guard military members or units of each state and the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, for a total of 54 separate organizations. All members of the National Guard of the United States are also members of the militia of the United States as defined by 10 U.S.C. § 246. National Guard units are under the dual control of the state and the federal government.

On July 19, 1934, Mayor Rossi spoke on national radio, "I congratulate the real leaders of organized labor on their decision and the part they have played in ending the general strike. San Francisco has stamped out without bargain or compromise an attempt to import into its life the very real danger of revolt... We will deal effectively with the small group who opposed peace and plotted revolution."

When his police force raided political offices and worker organizations after the strike, Rossi issued a statement: "I pledge to you that as Chief Executive in San Francisco I will, to the full extent of my authority, run out of San Francisco every Communist agitator, and this is going to be a continuing policy in San Francisco."

During a period of publicized police scandal, he asked for and appropriated seventy thousand dollars to investigate corruption in the department. The District Attorney, Matthew Brady, hired Edwin Atherton, a private investigator, who published the Atherton Report on police corruption in 1937. He presided over groundbreaking ceremonies for the San Francisco City College in April 1937. He befriended and hosted Fiorello La Guardia in San Francisco and visited New York City as La Guardia's guest.

Matthew A. Brady was a district attorney in San Francisco from 1919 through 1943.

Edwin Atherton FBI agent

Edwin Newton Atherton served as a Foreign Service Officer, Bureau of Investigation (BOI) Agent, Private Investigator, and later, appointed head of the college athletics organization, the Pacific Coast Conference in 1940.

Police corruption is a form of police misconduct in which law enforcement officers end up breaking their political contract and abuse their power for personal gain. This type of corruption may involve one or a group of officers. Internal police corruption is a challenge to public trust, cohesion of departmental policies, human rights and legal violations involving serious consequences. Police corruption can take many forms, such as bribery.

In an extended strike late in the late 1930s, Rossi lashed out at Harry Bridges, West Coast C.I.O. leader, saying the city is "sick of the alien" in a telegram to President Roosevelt, asking for federal intervention. In May 1942, six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, at the Tenney Committee hearings held in San Francisco, Rossi was subpoenaed, having been accused of supporting Italian fascism. According to the New York Times of May 26, 1942, "With tears in his eyes and a voice that broke with emotion, Mayor Angelo J. Rossi protested today his '100 per cent' loyalty to America and told a committee of the California Assembly that his presence before it as a witness was 'based on the damnable lies of irresponsible people'." He had been accused of making fascist salutes at San Francisco Columbus Day celebrations, which he strongly denied. Rossi testified that he removed a picture of Benito Mussolini from his office before the war began. He was defeated for reelection the following year following a rancorous campaign.

He died in 1948 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California. A city park-playground-pool and a street in the Richmond district of San Francisco are named after him.

See also

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    Preceded by
    James Rolph, Jr.
    Mayor of San Francisco
    Succeeded by
    Roger Lapham