James King of William

It was in the midst of this period of economic depression that James King of William began publication of the Evening Bulletin, an act that would lead to his murder and the second coming of the Committee of Vigilance. Born January 22, 1822, a native of the Georgetown in the District of Colombia, he began his career as a clerk in a bank in Washington in 1841 and married two years later. He assumed the title “of William” about this time to distinguish himself from all the other James King’s in Virginia, a not uncommon practice in those days.

James King of William

With no wealth of his own and a rapidly growing family he worked himself too hard and suffered a break down. By early 1848 it was recommended that he seek a better climate. His brother Henry had been serving in the west with Fremont and praised the virtues of the place. Henry was currently with Fremont on his last ill-fated expedition and would lose his life in February 1849 near Santa Fe, some said he died of exposure but others called it murder.

But in May 1848, before his brother’s death could cloud his thinking and knowing nothing about the discovery of gold, King sailed from New York bound for Cartegana in what is now Colombia, planning to proceed to California as best he could. He made his way to Panama and then to Callao in Peru and then on to Valparaiso in Chile. He landed on July 26, 1848 and immediately found a buzz of excitement about the gold discovered in California. He secured passage on the bark Undine with other adventurers, arrived in San Francisco on November 10 and immediately headed for the mines along the South Fork of the American River.


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