Today in History: Committee of Vigilance & Vigilantes

Assassination of James King, of William, corner of Montgomery and Washington Streets, San Francisco, California

Today in History–May 15–the Library of Congress features San Francisco‘s second Committee of Vigilance organized on this day in 1856 to combat crime in the boomtown. Committee members were overwhelming Republicans and Democrat “crooks” were often the target of the vigilance. Learn more by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to access primary sources related to San Francisco’s Vigilance committees and vigilantes from all over.

Letter, California vigilante committee to John Stephens 5 September 1856

The San Francisco Vigilance Committee” The Living Age Volume 50, Issue 644 September 27, 1856

Assassination of James King, of William, corner of Montgomery and Washington Streets, San Francisco, California 1856

Judge David S. Terry, stabbing S.A. Hopkins, of the vigilance committee, San Francisco, Cal. 1856

Execution of James P. Casey and Charles Cora, by the vigilance committee of San Francisco on Thursday, May 22d, 1856

Narrative of Edward McGowan, including a full account of the author’s adventures and perils while persecuted by the San Francisco vigilance committee of 1856, together with a report of his trial, which resulted in his acquittal 1857

History of the San Francisco Committee of vigilance of 1851 1921

James Stuart hung by the vigilance committee on Market St. wharf 11th of July 1851

1856 vigilance committee historical newspaper coverage

1851 vigilance committee historical newspaper coverage

The San Francisco Vigilance CommitteeThe Atlantic Monthly Volume 40, Issue 206 December 1877

The Vigilantes of California, Idaho, and MontanaHarper’s New Monthly Magazine Volume 83, Issue 495 August, 1891

Gold Hunters of California. San Francisco Vigilance Committees.” The Century; a popular quarterly Volume 43, Issue 1 November 1891

New Year’s : guarding against the dangers of the wilderness (1681) and of civilization (1881)

More vigilante images

Leroy Dean Discusses Vigilantes in Texas

More American life histories mentioning vigilantes

Vigilante historical newspaper coverage