While the Committee of Vigilance busied itself with casting out the bad characters in San Francisco, their enemies, particularly politicians and officials with whose schemes the committee interfered, made almost constant efforts to defeat it by attempting to bring about a conflict with state or federal authorities. The first attempt came from the Governor, J. Neeley Johnson. While not a bad man, Johnson was a weak one and could be easily influenced by others with a superior mind and he drifted constantly from one side to another. In the beginning he only urged the committee to hurry with their work, but the constant efforts of those against the committee at last influenced him to make a move.
On June 2nd, 1856 he ordered William T. Sherman, Major General of the Second Division of the California Militia, to call together those he deemed necessary to report, organize and act in the enforcement of the law. The next day Johnson issued a proclamation in which he declared San Francisco to be in a state of insurrection. He went even further in ordering almost all militia units of the state to organize. He then ordered all organizations or associations in San Francisco or elsewhere in the state who were in opposition or violation of the laws, and particularly the vigilance committee of San Francisco, to disband and yield obedience to the laws of the state, the processes of the courts and all legal orders of the state and the county of San Francisco. The proclamation would become famous because it was so badly timed, inefficient and afterwards so highly ridiculed.