Added: August 30, 2014 – Last updated: April 25, 2015


Author: Brendan C. Lindsay

Title: Murder State

Subtitle: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873

Place: Lincoln

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Year: 2012

Pages: xv + 436pp.

ISBN-13: 9780803224803 (hbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780803269668 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century | U.S. History | Types: Interracial Rape


Link: Amazon (Limited Preview)

Link: Google Books (Limited Preview)

Link: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Link: University of Nebraska Press (Limited Preview)



  List of Tables (p. viii)
  Preface (p. ix)
  Acknowledgments (p. xiii)
  Introduction: Defining Genocide (p. 1)
  Part I. Imagining Genocide
  Introduction (p. 35)
  1. The Core Values of Genocide (p. 43)
  2. Emigrant Guides (p. 70)
  3. The Overland Trail Experience (p. 109)
  Part 2. Perpetrating Genocide
  Introduction (p. 127)
  4. The Economics of Genocide in Southern California (p. 135)
  5. Democratic Death Squads of Nothern California (p. 179)
  Part 3. Supporting Genodice
  Introduction (p. 225)
  6. The Murder State (p. 231)
  7. Federal Bystanders to and Agents of Genodice (p. 271)
  8. Advertising Genocide (p. 313)
  Conclusion: At a Crossroads in the Genocide (p. 335)
  Epilogue: Forgetting and Remembering Genocide (p. 349)
  Notes (p. 361)
  Bibliography (p. 407)
  Index (p. 427)


»In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Euro-American citizenry of California carried out mass genocide against the Native population of their state, using the processes and mechanisms of democracy to secure land and resources for themselves and their private interests. The murder, rape, and enslavement of thousands of Native people were legitimized by notions of democracy—in this case mob rule—through a discreetly organized and brutally effective series of petitions, referenda, town hall meetings, and votes at every level of California government.
Murder State is a comprehensive examination of these events and their early legacy. Preconceptions about Native Americans as shaped by the popular press and by immigrants’ experiences on the overland trail to California were used to further justify the elimination of Native people in the newcomers’ quest for land. The allegedly “violent nature” of Native people was often merely their reaction to the atrocities committed against them as they were driven from their ancestral lands and alienated from their traditional resources.
In this narrative history employing numerous primary sources and the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on genocide, Brendan C. Lindsay examines the darker side of California history, one that is rarely studied in detail, and the motives of both Native Americans and Euro-Americans at the time. Murder State calls attention to the misuse of democracy to justify and commit genocide.« (Source: University of Nebraska Press)

Interview: Epstein, Andrew B., et al. »Murder State: California's Native American Genocide, 1846-1873.« New Books in Native American Studies (2012).


Akins, Damon. »Democatic Genocide in Frontier California.« H-AmIndian (April 2015). – Full Text: H-Net Reviews (Free Access)

Genetin-Pilawa, C. Joseph. Ethnohistory 60(2) (Spring 2013): 326-328. – Full Text: Duke University Press (Restricted Access)

Hurtado, Albert L. The American Historical Review 118(3) (June 2013): 859-860. – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Magliari, Michael F. Pacific Historical Review 82(3) (August 2013): 448-449. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Mattioli, Aram. sehepunkte. Rezensionsjournal für die Geschichtswissenschaften 13(2) (2013). – Full Text: sehepunkte (Free Access)

Miller, David. Southern California Quarterly 95(1) (Spring 2013): 84-86. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Orem, Dominik. Neue Politische Literatur (forthcoming).

Rensink, Brenden W. Western Historical Quarterly 44 (Autumn 2013): 339.

Trafzer, Clifford E. Journal of American Studies 47(Special Issue 4) (November 2013). – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Free Access)