Founding the Far West: California, Oregon, and Nevada, 1840-1890

Founding the Far West: California, Oregon, and Nevada, 1840-1890

by David Alan Johnson
     
 


Founding the Far West is an ambitious and vividly written narrative of the early years of statehood and statesmanship in three pivotal western territories. Johnson offers a model example of a new approach to history that is transforming our ideas of how America moved west, one that breaks the mold of "regional" and "frontier" histories to show why WesternSee more details below

Overview


Founding the Far West is an ambitious and vividly written narrative of the early years of statehood and statesmanship in three pivotal western territories. Johnson offers a model example of a new approach to history that is transforming our ideas of how America moved west, one that breaks the mold of "regional" and "frontier" histories to show why Western history is also American history.

Johnson explores the conquest, immigration, and settlement of the first three states of the western region. He also investigates the building of local political customs, habits, and institutions, as well as the socioeconomic development of the region. While momentous changes marked the Far West in the later nineteenth century, distinctive local political cultures persisted. These were a legacy of the pre-Civil War conquest and settlement of the regions but no less a reflection of the struggles for political definition that took place during constitutional conventions in each of the three states.

At the center of the book are the men who wrote the original constitutions of these states and shaped distinctive political cultures out of the common materials of antebellum American culture. Founding the Far West maintains a focus on the individual experience of the constitution writers—on their motives and ambitions as pioneers, their ideological intentions as authors of constitutions, and the successes and failures, after statehood, of their attempts to give meaning to the constitutions they had produced.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For decades the vast Rocky Mountain area of the U.S. could claim only three states, all clustered in a region known as the Far West. From 1849 to 1864, California, followed by Oregon and then Nevada, achieved statehood. But, as first-time author Johnson demonstrates in this lengthy and lucid history of the region, proximity in no way produced homogeneity. Focusing on each state's constitutional convention and founding fathers, the author, a history professor at Portland (Ore.) State University, paints a picture of stark contrasts that he claims remain visible to this day: California, a mixture of Hispanic and American cultures; agrarian and isolated Oregon; and ``jackpot mentality'' Nevada. Well organized and clearly formed. (May)
Library Journal
Johnson (history, Portland State Univ.) argues that the white settlers who shaped governmental structure in the Far West reflected different strains of American political ideology and culture. He examines the process of constitution writing in California, Oregon, and Nevada, showing how it reflected the sectional conflict of the 1840s and 1850s, and profiles the men who wrote those documents, analyzing their use of the vocabulary of Jacksonian democracy and, in Oregon, earlier classical republicanism. This thoughtful study will be useful to all scholars of 19th-century American history, not just Western specialists. Interested lay readers will also gain an appreciation for the West's intellectual links with the rest of the nation. Recommended.-- Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520073487
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
07/24/1992
Pages:
474
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.31(d)

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