Following up on my previous post, Hastings Law School To Keep Name Despite Founder's Role In Genocide, But Will Partner With Indian Tribe To Redress Past Injustices: New York Times, He Unleashed a California Massacre. Should This School Be Named for Him?:
The founder of the Hastings College of the Law masterminded the killings of hundreds of Native Americans. The school, tribal members and alumni disagree about what should be done now. ...
For the past four years, the University of California, Hastings College of the Law has been investigating the role of its founder, Serranus Hastings, in one of the darkest, yet least discussed, chapters of the state’s history. Mr. Hastings, one of the wealthiest men in California in that era and the state’s first chief justice, masterminded one set of massacres.
For those involved, including a descendant of Mr. Hastings who sits on the school’s board, the journey into the past has revealed a very different version of the early years of the state than the one taught in classrooms and etched into the popular imagination of intrepid pioneers trekking into the hills to strike it rich.
Across Northern California — north of Napa’s vineyards, along the banks of the Russian River and in numerous other places from deserts to redwood groves — as many as 5,617 Native people, and perhaps more whose deaths were not recorded, were massacred by officially sanctioned militias and U.S. troops from the 1840s to the 1870s, campaigns often initiated by white settlers like Mr. Hastings who wanted to use the land for their own purposes.
Thousands more Indians were killed by vigilantes during the same period. But what sets apart the organized campaigns is that the killers’ travel and ammunition expenses were reimbursed by the state of California and the federal government.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that California state legislators established a state-sponsored killing machine,” Benjamin Madley, a history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said.
By Dr. Madley’s calculation, expeditions carried out at Mr. Hastings’s behest killed at least 283 men, women and children, the most deadly of 24 known California state militia campaigns.
In 1878, Mr. Hastings donated $100,000 in gold coins to found the school that carries his name, California’s first law school. It was “to be forever known and designated as ‘Hastings’ College of the Law,” according to the school’s enactment.
Now, both the law school and its critics agree that Mr. Hastings “bears significant responsibility” for the massacres, in the words of the Hastings inquiry, but they disagree on what to do about it, including the question of whether the school should retain its name.
October 29, 2021 in Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink