May 1856 saw the creation of San
Francisco's Second Committee of Vigilance, largely in response to
the sensational murder of newspaper editor James King of William.
The accused murderer, James Casey,
also the owner of a newspaper and an elected member of the Board of
Supervisors, was quickly arrested and placed in the county jail. The
Committee members, worried that Casey might escape or be released
from the jail, decided to take matters into their own hands.
Three thousand supporters of the The
Committee forced Sheriff David Scannell to hand over Casey and
another prisoner, Charles Cora, who had murdered the local U.S.
Marshall, William Richardson. The two "rescued" prisoners were taken
to the headquarters of The Committee (located on Sacramento Street
near Front Street) and, after a trial, both were hung eight days
after Casey shot James King of William.