The Vigilance Committee of 1856 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 72 pages of information about The Vigilance Committee of 1856.

Chapter V.

Casey and Cora were hanged on Thursday, May 22d.  On Monday, June 2d, a meeting of the advocates of Law and Order was held in the Plaza.  Thousands of the Committee members and supporters assembled about the square.  Nothing effective came of it.  Governor Johnson had meantime been prevailed upon by prominent citizens, on the side of Law and Order, to adopt a course calculated to suppress the Committee.  It was too late.  The Law and Order element had organized a military force under the State militia 1 ws.  W. T. Sherman was made General.  Governor Johnson issued a proclamation commanding the State militia to hold themselves in readiness for duty, and to report to General Sherman.  In the city a force of about three hundred mustered.  It was totally inadequate, and not enough could be expected from the country.  In the harbor, in front of the city, the war-ship John Adams, Commander Bontwell, was anchored.  Commodore Farragut, commandant of this naval station, was at Mare Island.  It was rumored that the Adams would support the authorities in case of conflict with the Committee.  Another rumor was that cannons were to be placed upon the hills and at points which commanded the city, to be used if necessary.  The excitement continued and increased.  A deputation was sent to Washington, at the instance of the Governor, to represent the condition of affairs to the President, and prevail upon him to order the services of the military and naval forces to the suppression of the Committee and the restoration of law and order.  The deputation took the next steamer and proceeded to the national capital.  President Pierce replied that the federal government had no authority to interfere until the request came from the State government after the Legislature had assembled, acted upon the matter, and the State authorities had exhausted every means to put down the Committee and failed.

While the excitement was heightened by these rumors and proceedings, an incident occurred which augmented it to frenzied quality.  The armory of the Law and Order forces was in the capacious brick building, northeast corner of Dupont and Jackson streets.  On Jackson street, near by, a number of its members and sympathizers were standing in groups.  Sterling Hopkins, the volunteer hangman of Casey, of the Vigilance police, came up and attempted the arrest of Reub.  Maloney, a notorious politician, whose impudence of speech and reckless ways in partisan devices had made him an unenviable reputation.  His bravery was in his mouth; his mouth beyond his own control.  Judge David S. Terry, then of the State Supreme Court, interposed to prevent the lawless arrest, and in the struggle he drew a knife and dangerously wounded Hopkins.  In a few minutes word had reached the Committee headquarters, and the alarm was sounded with unexampled vigor.  The Committee forces, marshalled and led by the Commander-in-chief,

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The Vigilance Committee of 1856 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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