Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles

Eternity Street: Violence and Justice in Frontier Los Angeles

by John Mack Faragher


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“John Mack Faragher is one fine writer, bringing early L.A. to life as the setting for all manner of horrific killings and gruesome justice. Eternity Street will keep you up at night ruminating on the roots of American violence.”—Richard Wightman Fox, University of Southern California, author of Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History

Eternity Street tells the story of a violent place in a violent time: the rise of Los Angeles from its origins as a small Mexican pueblo. In a masterful narrative, John Mack Faragher relates a dramatic history of conquest and ethnic suppression, of collective disorder and interpersonal conflict. Eternity Street recounts the struggle to achieve justice amid the turmoil of a loosely governed frontier, and it delivers a piercing look at the birth of this quintessentially American city.

In the 1850s, the City of Angels was infamous as one of the most murderous societies in America. Saloons teemed with rowdy crowds of Indians and Californios, Mexicans and Americans. Men ambled down dusty streets, armed with Colt revolvers and Bowie knives. A closer look reveals characters acting in unexpected ways: a newspaper editor advocating lynch law in the name of racial justice; hundreds of Latinos massing to attack the county jail, determined to lynch a hooligan from Texas.

Murder and mayhem in Edenic southern California. "There is no brighter sun…no country where nature is more lavish of her exuberant fullness," an Angeleno wrote in 1853. "And yet, with all our natural beauties and advantages, there is no country where human life is of so little account. Men hack one another to pieces with pistols and other cutlery as if God's image were of no more worth than the life of one of the two or three thousand ownerless dogs that prowl about our streets and make night hideous." This is L.A. noir in the act of becoming.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393051360
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/11/2016
Pages: 624
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

John Mack Faragher is the Howard R. Lamar Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies at Yale. He is the author of many books on American history, including a biography of Daniel Boone that received a Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Characters xv

Maps xix

Prologue: A Terrible Place for Murders 1

Part 1

1 A People Angry and Armed 21

2 Reduced to Obedience 33

3 A Country Entirely Altered 49

4 Extranjeros 67

5 The Texas Game 85

6 A Territory of the United States 95

7 Iabajo Los Americanos! 109

8 The Old Woman's Gun 125

9 San Pasqual 139

10 Poor Californios 157

11 The Grab Game 173

12 Military Occupation 185

Part 2

13 Mob Law 201

14 Violence Begins at Home 213

15 The Lugo Case 225

16 War for a Whole Life 245

17 La Ley De Linch 263

18 The Cult of Violence 277

19 City Of Demons 295

20 Vindicta Publica 315

Part 3

21 We Have Got You Now. Don Santiago 337

22 The Crime Must Be Avenged 351

23 Dueling, Shooting, and Killing 373

24 The Plague is Upon Us 389

25 Master in the House 403

26 A Refined Piece of Villainy 419

27 The Home Guard Vigilance Committee 439

28 Chinatown 459

29 Imperfect Justice 481

30 Fists Doubled Up 493

Epilogue: Forgive Me, I Have Killed Your Brother 507

Notes 515

Acknowledgments 555

Permissions 559

Index 565

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