Michael J. Gillis: John Bidwell and California The Life and Writings of a Pioneer 1841 1900



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Rush none enjoyed subseuent fame and success than Bidwell and none made as great a contribution to the state's economic political and cultural development during the late nineteenth centuryA veteran of the Bear Flag Revolt and the Mexican War Bidwell was among the first of the fortunate few who struck it rich in the California gold rush The pastoral empire he went on to establish at Rancho Chico the chief and constant labor of his life served for decades as a model farm making numerous contributions to California agriculture between 1850 and 1900Bidwell pursued a career of public service capped by his famous but largely ceremonial campaign for the Presidency in 1892 at the head of the Prohibition party ticket Before that he had served in the California state senate and the United States House of Representatives; run four times for governor; held thr.

Bidwell's life finally receives a thorough and nbiased treatment in this new biography Combining narrative and extensive The Greek Tycoons Mistress use of Bidwell's voluminous written legacy John Bidwell and California sheds new light on both the man and his times It is a must for every reader interested in overland travel the Gold Rush Western pioneers and California historyA thoughtful and even visionary man of deep convictions balanced by practical common sense Bidwell was blessed with keen powers of observation and a gift for prose His published andnpublished work treats just about every imaginable aspect of life in California between 1841 and 1900From the moment he set out for California in 1841 with the Bidwell Bartleson Party Bidwell assumed a leading role in the history of California and the West Of all the American pioneers who settled in California before the gold.

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Ee important gubernatorial appointments; laid out the city of Chico; and founded what became today's California State University ChicoDespite this impressive record of achievement Bidwell has received remarkably little attention from historians John Bidwell and California is an objective look at the man and his times debunking the celebratory school which produced earlier biographiesInteraction with Indians and Chinese Bidwell's attitudes and behavior towards Indians seem to have been governed by a complex blend of curiosity humanitarianism and pragmatic self interest His continuous employment of Chinese on his rancho brought the threat of violence to his very doorstep on than one occasion Two chapters explore these complex subjectsA Bidwell Bibliography of sixteen pages is included providing a thorough guide to sources both published and npublished.