Sydney Ducks "Rescued" from the Authorities & Hanged
95. [CALIFORNIA PICTORIAL LETTER SHEET]. Tremendous Excitement! Samuel Whittaker and Robert McKenzie rescued from the authorities, and hung [sic] by the Vigilance Committee, on Sunday August 24th. at 3 o’clock P.M. in the presence of Fifteen thousand People. | Lith. & Publ. by Justh, Quirot & Co. Calif. corner Montg. Sts. S.F. Crowd in foreground; bodies hanging from building hoists in background. Signs for Bullitt, Patrick & Dow, Torrey & Blanchard, H.A. Cheever & Co., Vigilance Committee Chambers, G.O. Whitney [below] Furniture., Storage [above]. N.p., n.d. (issued before September 1, 1851). Lithograph on gray wove paper. Neat line to neat line: 16 x 25.1 cm; overall sheet size: 21.1 x 26.7 cm. Creased where formerly folded, professionally silked on verso, a few tiny voids at folds costing one letter of title. Overall very good.
Baird 274. Clifford 283. Peters, California on Stone, pp. 134-136. Another issue has the sign misspelled "Fourniture." Here the stone has been altered to correct the spelling, although the "F" looks more like "C." This letter sheet depicts the last official act of the first San Francisco Vigilance Committee—the execution of two Sydney Ducks, the name commonly given at the time to Australian emigrants, some of whom formed gangs that attracted the Committee’s attention. This hanging caused nearly every Australian emigrant to flee the city. The Vigilance Committee was formed in 1851, specifically to counter the Sydney Ducks. After the arrest of these two men by the Committee, the Sheriff accompanied by a strong contingent of deputies, took custody of the two prisoners. Two days later, the Committee showed up in force at the jail, took the prisoners away, quickly "tried" them, and subjected them to the punishment shown here.
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