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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The War of Words: Confederate Rhetoric in the Healdsburg Squatter War


Although California was relatively unaffected by the destruction of the Civil War, California's new statehood and Gold Rush brought thousands of migrants from the war-torn areas. These migrants brought with them their ideologies--and sometimes their slaves. In Northern California's Sonoma County, the battle of civil war ideologies was fought over land rights. Southern Squatters settled in Sonoma County, voted for the pro-slavery Democratic Party, sang Dixie, and after the start of the Civil War, fought off sheriffs and residents trying to remove them and their politics. In Northern California, the rhetoric of the Civil War was played out in the "Healdsburg Squatter War." Opportunistic landowners used the Civil War as a political, moral, and ideological weapon to eject Southern squatters from profitable Sonoma County lands

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