Archives for April 2012

San Francisco militia joins the vigilantes

The tide of public opinion settled strongly in favor of the Committee of Vigilance and grew more irresistible with all the support that poured into the city. Sheriff Scannell and those with him found themselves deserted by many who had at first shown a disposition to resist an attack on the county jail and the seizure of Casey and Cora. Sometime during the night after the shooting a large party of those defending the jail went to the steamers Goliath and Sea Bird docked at the Pacific Street … [Read more...]

Anger spreads over the shooting of King

While the organization of the Committee of Vigilance was underway, word spread throughout California about the shooting of James King of William, and in many places created an excitement that rivaled that of San Francisco. On Thursday evening a meeting was held in front of the Orleans Hotel in Sacramento and the citizens adopted a resolution in favor of King as a fearless advocate of the rights of the people and an uncompromising opponent of corruption, and another that condemned James Casey as … [Read more...]

33 Secretary of the vigilantes

On Friday, May 16, the executive committee of the new Committee of Vigilance, which by now consisted of about thirty prominent businessmen, adopted as far as possible the constitution of the 1851 committee and elected Isaac Bluxome Jr. as permanent secretary. Bluxome’s number on the committee roll was thirty-three and thereafter all documents, papers and minutes from the committee came with the signature 33 Secretary, which soon became more powerful than that of any governor or judge in the … [Read more...]

The San Francisco Herald

Another resolution passed by the Committee of Vigilance, but against the wishes of William Coleman, was for all members to withdraw support from the San Francisco Herald and urge their friends to do likewise. A leading San Francisco paper, the Herald was published in daily, weekly and steamer editions by John Nugent who had favored the 1851 committee. But Nugent hated James King of William since he had publicly charged Nugent with corruption, of being in the pay of Palmer, Cook & Co. and a … [Read more...]

The organization of the Committee of Vigilance

The new Committee of Vigilance enrolled about fifteen hundred people that first day in 1856. Meanwhile a larger meeting hall was secured at Turn Verein Hall on Bush Street and in that hall later that evening the committee met again and signed another five hundred or so men. After some discussion, William Coleman proposed dividing into companies of a hundred men in Roman style and forming them into regiments of ten companies each. Since this met with a general consent men were organized according … [Read more...]

Resolutions of the Committee of Vigilance

The work of enrollment for the 1856 Committee of Vigilance went rapidly. Most of the first to join had been members of the 1851 committee and knew how that organization worked.  They proceeded to elect a president, eight vice-presidents, a secretary, a treasurer and a sergeant-at-arms. William Coleman, the president, suggested an executive committee that would have general direction of the whole association, much like the original committee of thirty had in 1851. Twenty-six men were duly elected … [Read more...]

The Committee of Vigilance forms again

The rumors of the formation of a vigilance committee, which had given hope of real justice and helped prevent violence at the vigils over the shooting of James King of William on the night before, proved to be premature. Some members of the old committee had, in fact, met that night at the store of Gabriel B. Post at Front and Green Streets. Soon after a call for a meeting the following morning, purportedly issued by the executive committee of thirty, was sent to several newspapers for their … [Read more...]

A vigil for James King

While crowds were gathered at the county jail and Mayor Van Ness attempted to speak there, Montgomery Street between Clay and Washington became more densely packed with mourners as the night wore on. Not only did the people want to know James King’s condition but also they wished to hear any news of a resurgence of the Committee of Vigilance. Ropes stretched across the entrance to the Pacific Express office where King lay. Doctors and friends passed in and out and most gave an account of how the … [Read more...]

Mayor Van Ness fails to quell the unrest

Soon after James King’s brother, Thomas, left the county jail in San Francisco where James Casey was essentially hiding under the protection of the law, rumors of a vigilance committee forming in town had created an expectation that justice was soon to come. When a party of armed men approached the jail many expected them to be an advance guard of that committee and cheered loudly. They soon learned this was a company of citizens who had volunteered to defend the jail and the cheers turned to … [Read more...]

James Casey transferred to county jail

When James Casey’s carriage sped away from city hall a large crowd ran after it as fast as they could, shouting that he should be hung at once. They all soon arrived at county jail, a two story stone and brick building that had been set into an excavation on Telegraph Hill. Afterwards Broadway Street had been graded down some eight feet, leaving a bank of earth in front of the jail. Heavy wooden steps led up from the street to the prison, and Casey was hurriedly moved up them and into the single … [Read more...]