It was expected that he would approve the Committee
just organized. He adopted the contrary course.
The Herald denounced the Committee in strong terms.
The merchants had generally approved and joined the
Committee. That morning every copy of the Herald
was gathered, a pile of the papers made in Front street,
and burned. It was the significant rebuke which
the merchants made; but they did not stop at that
— they erased their names from the carriers’
lists. Thousands of other citizens did the same.
That morning the Herald was a sheet of forty columns,
with the largest advertising patronage and largest
circulation of any daily newspaper in San Francisco.
The next morning it appeared, a small sheet, not much
larger than a sheet of foolscap, of twenty-four columns.
The Herald was the favorite organ of the Democracy,
of the anti-Broderick and Southern wing of the party,
particularly. The especial organ of that wing,
the Times and Transcript, had ceased publication a
few months before, and its patronage went mostly to
the Herald. Nugent was opposed to Gwin, the powerful
leader of the anti-Broderick party, more than he was
to Broderick; but this was overlooked by many of Gwin’s
supporters. The friends, of General McDougall
were his warmest friends and backers, They now rallied
to his support and to the sustenance of the Herald.
General Volney E. Howard, J. Thompson Campbell, Judge
R. Augustus Thompson, W. T. Sherman, the manager of
Lucas, Turner & Co.’s banking house here —
now General Sherman — Austin E. Smith, Sam.
E. Brooks, Gouverneur Morris, Hamilton Bowie, Major
Richard Roman; and the solid old merchant, Captain
Archibald Ritchie, With hundreds others, stood steadfast
by Nugent, for Law and Order, and against the Committee.
J. Neely Johnson was Governor of the State, and controlled
the militia. He was petitioned by the Law and
Order Organization to take action and issue a proclamation
requiring the Vigilance Committee to disband.
Governor Johnson came from Sacramento to San Francisco
by steamboat on Friday night, and was met at the wharf
by a deputation of the Law and Order body. Subsequently,
up town, a committee from the Vigilance Committee,
accompanied by Col. Baillie Peyton, met him, and
with them he held a long conference.
The particular subjects at issue, on each side, were
the status of the Committee, the authority of the
Governor to command its disbandment. The Committee
had expressed the desire or the intention to have Casey
committed to their custody, alleging that his escape
from the jail was not unlikely for certain reasons.
The Governor at length acceded in general terms to
the propositions of the Committee, and measurably
assured them his support. The Law and Order leaders
were amazed, incensed and disgusted at the weakness
of Governor Johnson. He had as good as surrendered
the jail to them, and they had only to go and seize
it, and capture the prisoners. This was known
in the city on Saturday, and the Law and Order body
prepared for the expected emergency — the defence
of the jail from the assault of the Committee.
Steps were taken for the defence of the jail by the
Law and Order men, who volunteered for the occasion.
The Committee had likewise made preparations.