It was in June of 1854, while James King suffered great anxiety that, because of the actions of one of his employees, he would not be able to meet his obligations. Isaiah Woods of Adams & Co. proposed to hire him for a salary of over one thousand dollars per month and if King would turn over all his assets to Woods’ express and banking company then they would be responsible for all of Kings liabilities. King accepted the offer believing Adams & Co. to be perfectly solvent, and Adams & Co. knew that King’s assets, with good management would be worth more than any potential liability and that his reputation for honesty would be worth more than any possible loss, promptly hired him. On June 27, 1854 a contract was signed for King’s employment for a period of two years.
In the beginning things went well but King soon became dissatisfied with Woods’ method of doing business and with some of Woods’ friends. One of these men was Alfred Cohen and a few weeks after he started work at Adams King expressed his dislike of Cohen, but after a talk with Woods agreed to suppress his feelings. Sometime in August, according to a statement later made by King, a conversation occurred between him and Cohen over the sale of gold dust made by Cohen as a broker for Adams & Co. to Page, Bacon & Co. This conversation resulted in very great ill feeling between the two men, who were both evidently quite hot tempered.