The Indians of Southern California in 1852
The B.D. Wilson Report and a Selection of Contemporary Comment
Benjamin Davis Wilson was one of the first American settlers in Southern California. He became a prosperous rancher and the mayor of little Los Angeles. A special friend of the Indians of Southern California, Wilson was appointed their subagent in 1852, when the Indians were on the edge of catastrophe, their population reduced by two-thirds within a generation. Wilson’s great contribution, the one he wished to be remembered for, was to appraise the problems of these Indians and urge their settlement on land set aside for them. His report (published in the Los Angeles Star in 1868) was instrumental in creating the reservation system.
The Indians of Southern California in 1852 was inspired by Wilson’s desire “to secure peace and justice to the Indians.” He recognized his duty to guard against Indian raids on the ranchos and settlements while establishing policies that ensured the future welfare of Indians suffering from the breakdown of the old mission program. Besides the influential Wilson report, this volume contains vivid descriptions of life in the so-called Cow Counties of Southern California at mid-nineteenth century. Also included are excerpts from contemporary newspapers.
The editor, John Walton Caughey, is the author of Gold Is the Cornerstone and California. Albert L. Hurtado is an associate professor of history at Arizona State University and the author of Indian Survival on the California Frontier.
154 pp — ©1995