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 morning editions, but no more action was taken that night. At nine o’clock the next morning, when members of the old committee began to assemble at the lodge of the American or Know Nothing Party on Sacramento Street near Leidsdorff, a huge crowd filled with sympathetic men who desired to take part in the organization had already gathered.

William Coleman

William Tell Coleman

It soon became obvious, because of the great changes that had taken place over the last five years, that the old organization would no longer work and a new one needed to be formed. William T. Coleman, a member of the old committee, was asked to become it’s leader. He at once suggested that the organization should be impersonal with no names used. Each man would be issued a number and be known by the number only. They would then keep the committee very closely guarded and use care as to whom they admit. He then wrote an oath pledging life, liberty, property and honor to the organization and swore in a half dozen or so members. Every man’s name was then recorded in a book with his address and occupation. By acclaim Coleman’s name was entered as number one in the new Committee of Vigilance.

Hard driving historical fiction from the California gold rush

John Rose

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