Vigilantes free Terry

The vigilance committee’s board of delegates was called together on the Friday following the guilty verdicts in the trial of David Terry to give their approval of those decisions. Feelings ran high and the meeting room was full. The doors were ordered closed right after roll call and no other member would be admitted until the Terry issue had been decided. After the indictment and verdict of the executive committee were read a motion was made to accept it but this was voted down at once. Each of … [Read more...]

David Terry trail verdict

A large number of witnesses had been examined in the vigilante’s case against David Terry and it took until July 19th, more than three weeks after the trial started, until the testimony closed. Then, on July 21, after the testimony was all in, rumors of a writ of habeas corpus for Terry surfaced and preparations were made to secrete him, but the rumors proved false and the trial proceeded to a close. The next day, Tuesday July 22nd, Terry pled his own case while Smiley spoke for the prosecution. … [Read more...]

David Farragut overrules Boutwell

Although the vigilantes Isaac Bluxome, known as 33 Secretary, had already informed Boutwell on Saturday that his communications to the committee would receive their due consideration, on Monday Boutwell wrote again with a request to be informed what action they would take in regard to David Terry. The urgency of his request, he said, was that he wanted to forward copies of his correspondence with both the state government and the committee to Washington with the Pacific Mail Steamer on July 5th. … [Read more...]

Boutwell’s resolve to free Terry wavers

It is unknown whether Commander Boutwell received David Terry’s letter before he wrote his own to the Committee of Vigilance or if he received it and after reading it changed his mind about the wisdom of acting too fast thus allowing himself to be used to bring about a conflict. But no matter what happened, when he wrote to Governor Johnson the next day he assumed a different attitude, saying he was sorry to inform him that because of the unanimity with which the people of San Francisco … [Read more...]

Terry pleads with Boutwell

On the same Saturday, June 28th that Boutwell wrote to the vigilance committee, David Terry managed to have a letter smuggled out of Fort Gunnybags and delivered to Boutwell. In it Terry stated his case. He was an American citizen and a state Supreme Court justice who, on June 21st, had been seized with force and violence by an armed body of men styling themselves as the Committee of Vigilance and taken to their heavily protected and well-armed fort in San Francisco. Since then he had been … [Read more...]

Terry gets help from the navy

On Friday, June 27th, the same day David Terry’s trial began, Governor Johnson wrote to Commander Boutwell, captain of the sloop-of-war John Adams, and explained his position on Terry’s eminent danger because of his imprisonment and trial by the vigilance committee and the probability of civil war if this act of lawlessness was allowed to continue. He asked Boutwell to exercise the power and means under his command for the protection and security of Terry from the vigilantes, except for such … [Read more...]

Terry ask the Navy for help

One man to whom David Terry turned to for help with his trouble with the vigilance committee over his stabbing of Sterling Hopkins was E. B. Boutwell, Commander of the sloop-of-war John Adams now in San Francisco harbor. On June 21st Boutwell had asked the committee how long it would keep their prisoner, Dr. Ashe, also a navel officer arrested with Terry, asserting that his confinement would prevent Boutwell from getting to sea as soon as he proposed. The committee responded politely to the … [Read more...]

Vigilantes try David Terry

The turmoil over the arrest of Supreme Court justice David Terry delayed his trial and caused serious troubles for the Committee of Vigilance. James Daws, a prominent member of the committee with a brilliant but somewhat uncultivated intellect described the situation the vigilantes found themselves in by saying, “We started out to hunt coyotes but we’ve got a grizzly bear on our hands and we don’t know what to do with him.” But the committee was equal to the task and as soon as they made up … [Read more...]

Warrants for the Julia seizure

The vigilance committee formulated an indictment of a sort against David Terry on Sunday evening that consisted of three main charges; first of resisting with violence officers of the committee while in the discharge of their duties; second, of committing an assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill Sterling Hopkins; and third of various breaches of the peace and attacks upon citizens. Under this last charge there were five specifications, one involved resistance to a writ of habeas … [Read more...]

Federal aid to Governor Johnson refused

The humiliation that Volney Howard was subjected to by the vigilantes was not so much that he had become a general without an army, but more due to the bluster and threats he used in an attempt to cow the vigilance committee. He then went to Sacramento where he attempted to give a speech to justify his cause, but when he mentioned his great friend David Terry the crowd became unsettled and questioned why a Supreme Court justice should be involved in a street fight. The hoots and catcalls … [Read more...]