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San Francisco Committee of Vigilance records
mssVigilancecommittee  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection contains letters and documents related to the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1856, a vigilante group that formed in San Francisco, California, and functioned for five months. The letters and documents are related to individuals making charges or giving information about suspects or prisoners to the group.
Background
The San Francisco Committees of Vigilance of 1851 and 1856 were formed when crime became widespread in the city of San Francisco in the wake of the Gold Rush. In 1856, the murder of James King of William sparked the reactivation of vigilante activities. King, a San Francisco newspaper editor, was shot by James. P. Casey, a corrupt official, after King attacked Casey in the columns of his paper. Immediately 10,000 men hastened to join the vigilantes, and William T. Coleman was again chosen as leader. Opposition to the vigilance committee was led by California Supreme Court Justice David S. Terry, but the efforts of his group were largely ineffective. The "Great Committee" of the vigilantes functioned for five months, then surrendered its powers to a regularly constituted civil authority.
Extent
3,750 items
Restrictions
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Availability
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.