John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier

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In the history of the American frontier, John Sutter (1803-1880) looms large. A Swiss expatriate who attempted to create a personal empire in California's Sacramento Valley, he founded New Helvetia, a cosmopolitan settlement that drew overland immigrants to California in the 1840s and then-after gold was discovered by Sutter's employees-a flood of fortune seekers. Sutter was poised to become one of the richest men in the West, but rapacious settlers and his own poor business sense sent his dreams crashing.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This welcome biography of Sutter, known as the father of the 1848-49 California gold rush, updates Richard Dillon's Fools Gold: The Decline and Fall of Captain John Sutter of California. Hurtado (history, Univ. of Oklahoma; Intimate Frontiers: Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California) taps into newly opened archival collections, writing new chapters in Sutter's life. A Swiss immigrant, Sutter has become infamous for his routine enslavement and killing of American Indians while trying to create his New Helvetia empire in the Sacramento Valley of Mexican California a decade before the discovery of gold at his mill. Hurtado expands on ideas he explored in Indian Survival on the California Frontier, showing how absolutely dependent Sutter was on Indian labor while building his agrarian business and settlement. Sutter's rise and his fall from grace after the gold rush-he fought for the right to the profits from gold on his land- are fully treated. This readable and well-written biography expertly places its subject in historical context. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Nathan E. Bender, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806139296
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 1,022,896
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.92 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert L. Hurtado is Professor and Paul H. and Doris Eaton Travis Chair of Modern American History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of several books, including John Sutter: A Life on the North American Frontier.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix Preface xi Acknowledgments xv
1 A Man and His Time 3
2 Opportunity on the American Frontier 16
3 A Tour of Western Enterprises 30
4 Crossroads of the Pacific 43
5 Into the Valley 52
6 An Entrepreneur in Indian Country 67
7 A Merchant-Adventurer in Mexico 81
8 Foreign Intrigue 92
9 Domain and Dominion 108
10 Misguided Diplomacy 125
11 Misfortunes of War 136
12 The Indian Business Again 152
13 Signs and Portents 164
14 American Conquest 189
15 A Restoration of Sorts 204
16 The Gold Rush Cometh 219
17 Sacramento and Solvency 235
18 A New State and Its Founder 251
19 Land Troubles 268
20 Hock Farm Homestead 286
21 General Sutter and the Filibusters 297
22 The Final Fall 310
23 A Hero among the Moravians 322 Epilogue: Settlement of Old Debts 341 Abbreviations 347 Notes 349 Bibliography 385 Index 401
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