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Banking House of Lucas, Turner & Co,
July 2, 1856.
The last advices explained the condition of public affairs up to the 20th ult., at which time the Vigilance Committee were in full blast. There was an apparent submission to them which looked like a perfect calm, but every thinking man knew that at any moment the whole might explode. Sure enough, on Saturday the 21st, occurred one of the most disgrace ful scenes that can be imagined. It seems that General Howard, who succeeded me in the management of the military affairs here, was gathering arms and munitions, picking them up wherever they could be found. A small schooner, the Julia, had about one hundred and thirty muskets on board, and whilst on her way to the city was intercepted by another small vessel with Vigilance Committee men on board, headed by one Durkee, who took the arms and the three men in charge in custody, and on reaching the city the arms were taken to the fort of the committee, and the three men turned loose; these were named Phillips, Maloney, and McNab. These men went before the United States District Court and filed a complaint against Durkee for a piracy on the waters of the bay, and the committee, finding themselves about to be embroiled with the United States Government, discovered that Maloney was a bad character, a ballot-box stuffer, and accordingly issued their orders for his arrest. This order was placed in the hand of . . . Hopkins, who proceeded to the room of R. P. Ashe, navy agent -brother-in-law of Dr. Moses in your city. He has been a most violent opposer of the Vigilance Committee, and was captain of one of the companies enrolled under my orders.
His room is over Palmer, Cook & Co's bank, and Judge Terry of the Supreme Court was staying with him. Terry too is a most violent opposer of the committee, is the judge whose will was disobeyed, and who has honestly opposed the progress of the committee by all the influence he possesses. When Hopkins reached the room and asked Maloney to go with him, Ashe, Terry, and others present put Hopkins out. He immediately sent word to the committee-rooms for more force to arrest Maloney. Ashe, Terry, and others in the room with Maloney took such weapons as they could get, and started for one of the armories used by one of the State Volunteer Companies, on Jackson street, between Kearny and Dupont. On leaving Palmer, Cook & Co's buildings, they were followed by Hopkins and others, who endeavored to seize Maloney, but Ashe and Terry interposed, and they had nearly reached the armory, when Hopkins seized the gun in Terry's hands, a scuffle ensued, a pistol went off, and Terry, a strong fine-looking man, excited, announced himself a judge of the Supreme Court, commanded the peace, and endeavored to escape from Hopkins, who held his gun with his left hand, and with his right grasped Terry by the hair or neckcloth. Then Terry drew his knife, showed it to Hopkins, and stabbed him in his left shoulder. Hopkins by this time had Terry's gun, with which he ran down the street, crying he was stabbed (or killed). Maloney, Terry, Ashe, and party thus reached the armory, which is in the third story of a fire-engine house. Then arose such a tumult as I never witnessed. The Vigilance bell pealed forth its wildest clamor, and men ran, calling, "Hang him! hang him!" All kinds of stories flew about that Terry had shot Hopkins dead, and indeed it was hours before the truth was known; all stores were closed; so wild was the tumult that I had the money put in the vault and locked, and commanded all the clerks to stand by. Crowds of people with muskets, and swords, and pistols poured by up Jackson street, and a dense mass of men filled the street from Montgomery to Stockton. Knowing Terry and Ashe to be desperate men, and hearing that about fifteen or twenty of their friends were with them, I took it for granted that blood would be shed; but after some talking they concluded to surrender, and were conducted under strong guard to the Vigilance Committee rooms. At the same time all the armories of the State Volunteers were surrendered, giving up their arms and accoutrements-a regular coup d'etat a la Louis Napoleon. Thus from that day the State of California ceased to have any power to protect men here in defense of her sovereignty. . . . Since that day nothing has been done in the military way, except by the Vigilance Committee, who have their rooms fortified, and whose companies are marched through the streets at all hours. Some are being uniformed, and some bands of music are now being formed, so it may be they intend to keep up their military power a long time. In the mean time Terry is in the cells of the committee. At first they were disposed to treat him well, allowed his wife to see him, but of late they have changed, and now they permit no one to visit him. I inclose you a slip containing a letter from Mrs. Terry, and I know you will agree with me that this is a case of such cruelty that, without knowing, we could not believe such a thing could be enacted in an American city. For ten days Hopkins has been lying on his bed, with reports coming every hour that he was getting worse and even dying. The newspapers have been inflaming the public mind, and that "Bulletin," the cause of all this civil strife, announces its dictates, which are promptly obeyed. To it Judge Terry is indebted for the cruelty shown him. When it was generally understood that during his confinement he was to have a room and be allowed the company of his wife, the "Bulletin" announced that such would not be the case; and that the editor was happy to announce that judge Terry would not be treated a bit better than Casey and Cora; that he was confined in the same kind of cell; that he would be tried by the same law; and, if found guilty, suffer the same penalty. It has now been acknowledged that if Hopkins died, Judge Terry would be hung; if Hopkins recovers, then he will be banished. At all events he must be made to resign; but he will not resign, he says; he would rather die than be dishonored. He was imprudent in this matter, for as judge he ought to have kept aloof on the score that the questions involved might come before him as judge. So satisfied was I of this that, when in command here, I requested Johnson to call him to Sacramento, which he did; but when I resigned he came again to the city, and the result is he is in the power of the committee. . . . I hope Hopkins may recover, in which case the committee can do nothing to Terry; but if he die we may have further commotion. 1 am sick of this whole matter, and 1 believe the community is fast becoming so, and therefore I will drop the subject, leaving the newspapers to keep you advised of the progress of this singular revolution. I am out of it, and believe that I have lost nothing in public estimation in what I did; at all events it is a lesson I will never forget-to mind my own business in all time to come.
To Henry S. Turner,
St. Louis, Missouri.
- William Sherman