American culture has long associated the nineteenth-century U.S. frontier with episodes of violent death and random bloodshed. But what about the vast watery expanse west of the West? The Pacific Ocean contains its own violent past, especially during the period stretching from Captain James Cook's historic voyages to the California Gold Rush. The nature and degree of this violence stemmed not merely from contact relations between indigenous communities and newcomers, but more specifically from commercial desires, the diffusion of diseases, and the great hunt for marine mammals. Historicizing this violent past remains an imperative for new studies of the Pacific.

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