Archives for July 2012

Illegal ballot box sways public opinion

As the meeting of San Francisco citizens in front of the Oriental Hotel wound down, Bailie Peyton again stepped to the podium and raised high, so that the enormous crowd could see it, the now famous double back action ballot box that had recently been seized and held by the vigilance committee. Loud and prolonged applause rose from the crowd. When quiet was at last restored Peyton exclaimed, “Here is the orator of the occasion. I beg to introduce to you a harp of a thousand strings. I’m sorry I … [Read more...]

San Franciscans rally in support of vigilantes

While the Committee of Vigilance prepared for whatever might be in store for it, the citizens who had been so shabbily treated by the governor at Benicia did not stay idle. Partly to justify their own actions and partly to convince the governor and his councilors of the true feelings of the community in regards to the vigilantes they called a meeting of the people for noon on Saturday, June fourteenth in the open space in front of the Oriental Hotel. Immediately arrangements were made on both … [Read more...]

Vigilantes get support from across the bay

With Fort Gunnybags prepared for an attack by the enemies of the vigilantes, the committee turned its attention to the many and various offers of sympathy and assistance from the interior of the state, as the effect and influence of the Committee of Vigilance could not be confined to San Francisco alone. At first the organization had declined to receive a deputation from Contra Costa County across the bay on the grounds that its objectives were local and it did not want to complicate matters. … [Read more...]

Vigilante headquarters readied for war

Military men among the vigilantes recognized the headquarters on Sacramento Street as virtually indefensible in an attack by the law and order party. There was some talk of moving but in the end it was resolved to strengthen the existing building. The sewers in the area were thoroughly checked and measures taken to prevent access from them. An idea for portable barricades was offered by the French legion and suggestions were received from noted military persons from as far away as Europe. At the … [Read more...]

The vigilante military restructured

In addition to the publication of the address of the Committee of Vigilance, which clearly showed its determination not to disband until its work was done, and probably because of the ill-advised positions taken by Governor Johnson, the committee rescinded the conciliatory resolutions adopted before the meeting of the citizens of San Francisco with the governor in Benicia. This was done, not because peace was undesirable, but because those who advised Johnson had misconstrued their overtures as … [Read more...]

Objectives of the vigilantes

The Committee of Vigilance believed the people had entrusted them with the power to expel from the community those ruffians and assassins who had outraged the peace and good order of society, violated the ballot box, over ridden law and thwarted justice. Beyond these duties the committee did not wish to interfere with the details of government. They spared no effort to avoid bloodshed and civil war and, undeterred by threats from opposing organizations they would continue, peacefully if they … [Read more...]

The vigilantes address their opponents

While San Francisco’s Committee of Vigilance had not yet discovered any indication of a lack of confidence from its constituents and had no reason to doubt that the greater part of the community endorsed their action and wanted them to continue the work of weeding out irreclaimable characters from the city, they had seen, with deep regret, that some state authorities had felt it their duty to organize a force to resist them. The committee realized that not only those who sought office with a … [Read more...]

The values of the vigilantes

Deeply embedded in the principles of republican government were the truths that the majority ruled, and when corrupt officials fraudulently seized the reins of authority and purposely prevented the execution of the laws of punishment on the notoriously guilty, then the power they had usurped reverted back to the people from whom it was taken. The Committee of Vigilance, realizing these truths and confidant that they carried the will of the people, had calmly and dispassionately weighed the … [Read more...]

Vigilante address to San Francisco

The address, directed to the people of California, stated that the Committee of Vigilance, while acting on the will of the vast majority of the people, desired to define the necessities that had forced them to organize. Great public emergencies demanded prompt, vigorous remedies. The people, long suffering under a despotism that had invaded their liberty, squandered their property, usurped their offices of trust, endangered their lives, prevented the expression of their will through their vote … [Read more...]

Benicia failure inspires Committee of Vigilance

If Sherman truly expected his uncalled for advice to cause the Committee of Vigilance to disband he was mistaken. On Sunday, as soon as they heard the results of the failed conference in Benicia, they began to acquire all the wire cartridges in San Francisco and then accepted an offer from a large arms dealer who tendered the use of all shotguns in his possession on the condition they would be returned in good working order. Later on that same Sunday the board of delegates met and, far … [Read more...]