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Vigilante Wars

Gang Democracy and the Collapse of Government in San Francisco’s Gold Rush Years

by Cecelia Holland

The 1849 Gold Rush in California brought to a boiling point the new state’s wild and unruly politics. Before long there was mob rule in the muddy streets of San Francisco. This decline of constitutional authority on the West Coast mirrored the fumbling actions of Congress and the federal government in Washington as a nation deeply divided over the slavery issue struggled to find a way to preserve the Union.  Cecelia Holland’s compelling account of events in the city on the bay reveals a disturbing underside of the “will of the people” and the fragile nature of democratic government in a nation headed for civil war.


Vigilante Wars details:

ISBN: 978-1-937853-36-5

Words: 22,018

Pages: 48


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Tags:  Gold Rush - San Francisco - Mob violence - California history