Josiah Royce: California, from the Conquest of 1846 to the Second Vigilance Committee in San Francisco. A Study of American Character


Born in Grass Valley in 1851, Royce became one of the countries preeminent philosophers. His “California” was published in 1886, a time when the conquest of California was not ancient history. In fact, he interviewed John C. Fremont for the book.

Royce’s writing is full of delicious and unexpected irony. He was very critical of the actions of the U.S. government against Mexico leading up to the war. His examination of historical documents, including the dispatch Gillespie brought to Fremont at Klamath Lake, is meticulous ( and he is effusive in his thanks to “Mr. H.H. Bancroft.”)

“The American as conqueror is unwilling to appear in public as a pure aggressor; he dare not seize California as Russia has seized so much land in Asia or  Napoleon, with full French approval, seized whatever he wanted. The American wants to persuade not only the world but himself that he is doing God service in a peaceable spirit, even when he violently takes what he has determined to get.”

The book is dedicated to his mother.

Link to the book:



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