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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942

Book Reviews

The Cattle on a Thousand Hills: Southern California, 1850-1870.
By Robert Glass Cleland.
San Marino: The Huntington Library, 1941. Pp. xiv, 327.
Professor Cleland's abiding interest in the history of Califor-
nia has once more borne rich fruit. The Cattle on a Thousand
Hills, an economic and social history, "is chiefly concerned with
the impact of Anglo-Saxon customs and institutions upon the
pastoral life of the Spanish-Californians, with the conversion of
the great grazing ranchos into farms and settlements, with the
gradual displacement of frontier violence and instability by a
more restrained, law-abiding society, and with the transforma-
tion of the so-called 'Cow Counties' of the post-Gold Rush era
into the small beginnings of the southern California of our
time." Research in preparation for the volume was extensive,
if not well nigh exhaustive. Familiarity with secondary ma-
terials, periodical as well as book, is indicated, but the author
relied almost wholly upon original sources. Primary sources in
the Huntington Library, the Gaffy Manuscripts especially, court
records, county archives, and newspaper files of the Los Angeles
Star, Southern Vineyard, and Semi-Weekly News were used
Two of the ten chapters are given to a study of the land con-
cessions of Governor Fages and others that followed, and to the
era of the ranchos. Explanation of the small number of con-
cessions, according to Professor Cleland, lay in the disinterest of
desirable applicants and presence of the missions. The headings
of the other chapters are almost self-explanatory: The Land
Act and Its Aftermath, Life on the Ranchos, Society in Flux,
The Rise and Collapse of the Cattle Boom, Taxes, Drought, and
Epidemic, Minor Economic Enterprises, The Genesis of a New
Social and Economic Order, and Abel Stearns: The Personi-
fication of an Age. The Federal Land Act of 1851 cast a cloud
over most of the titles to land in southern California, and the
litigation that followed was so costly that it resulted in impov-
erishment and dispossession of many of the leading landholders
of the pre-Gold Rush era. Professor Cleland pictured life on
the ranchos with sympathetic understanding, and he also por-
trayed the effect of the impact of the Anglo-Saxon rush into
California during and following the Gold Rush. The degrada-
tion of the Indians after secularization of the mission lands was


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 4, 2016.

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