Roundtable: Dangerous Ground: Squatters, Statesman, and the Rupture of American Democracy

May 19th
12:00 PM
Lewis-Latimer Room, The Faculty Club

Led by John Suvaldoctoral candidate, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Squatters were a persistent frontier presence from the earliest days of the United States, but in the Jacksonian and antebellum periods these illegal settlers emerged as political and cultural lightning rods. Why? This talk explores how squatters in the expanding West came to occupy a central place in U.S. political culture, territorial conquests, and conflicts leading up to the Civil War. California was a particularly violent and disruptive proving ground of squatter politics, and a primary focus of the discussion.