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.

San Francisco, 1856

San Francisco 1856

Later on that same Sunday the board of delegates met and, far from wanting to disband, they seemed more to think in terms of perfecting the organization. They resolved that anyone who disclosed their secrets should be subject to whatever penalty the board should direct, even up to death. All then swore a solemn oath to that effect.

Montgomery Street, SF, 1856

Montgomery Street 1856

When the conference at Benicia came up William Coleman said that Clancy J. Dempster had prepared an address to the public that embodied the views of the executive committee in regards to future action and, with the agreement of the board, it was proposed to publish it. The address was read by Dempster, accepted by the board and ordered published. It appeared in the newspapers of San Francisco on Monday, June 9th, the same day as Sherman’s document.


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