Item #5000754 James Stuart hung by the Vigilance Committee on Market St. Wharf, on the 11th of July 1851... View taken from the storeship Byron. Foot of Market St. Wharf San Francisco. SYDNEY DUCKS, artist W C. K.

James Stuart hung by the Vigilance Committee…
James Stuart hung by the Vigilance Committee on Market St. Wharf, on the 11th of July 1851... View taken from the storeship Byron. Foot of Market St. Wharf San Francisco.

San Francisco: Publ. & lith. by Justh, Quirot and Co., Calif[ornia], corn[er] Montg[omery] st[reet]s, June 1851  .

Original lithograph on blue paper, 223 x 287 mm; verso blank; laid down on an old, thin piece of card.

The Californians hang a Sydney gangster

Rare lithographic sheet publishing the sensational scene of an eager public watching, some helping by pulling on the ropes, as the newly formed Californian Vigilance Committee rid the world of a Botany Bay man, a so-called "Sydney Duck". The Sydney Ducks, a gang terrorizing goldrush San Francisco and wider California, were a group of 'Australian convicts who made camp in the rough-and-tumble "Sydney Town" on the northeastern summit of Telegraph Hill…

Rare lithographic sheet publishing the sensational scene of an eager public watching, some helping by pulling on the ropes, as the newly formed Californian Vigilance Committee rid the world of a Botany Bay man, a so-called "Sydney Duck". The Sydney Ducks, a gang terrorizing goldrush San Francisco and wider California, were a group of 'Australian convicts who made camp in the rough-and-tumble "Sydney Town" on the northeastern summit of Telegraph Hill…

'James "English Jim" Stuart was 'a notorious British outlaw and convicted forger who had been sent to the Australian penal colonies at the age of sixteen and joined the rush to California in November 1849. In February, Stuart was one of two men accused of beating merchant Charles Jansen on the head and then robbing him of two thousand dollars, but police had [first of all] apprehended a man misidentified as Stuart…

'The actual Stuart was captured, convicted of the robbery and a murder in Marysville, and hanged on the Market Street Wharf on July 11' (Amy K. DeFalco Lipper, "Consuming Identities: Visual Culture in Nineteenth-century San Francisco").

The image depicts the crowd surrounding James Stuart's still-hanging body – not only is the wharf crowded, but boats on the water are filled with spectators. A huge American flag flies from a mast.

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After the gold rush began in 1849 the city's population promptly increased from 15,000 to 250,000. It has been estimated that around 11,000 people travelled from Australia to join the rush, enough of them settling in Telegraph Hill that it became known as Sydney Town. The Sydney Ducks were 'one of the most maligned immigrant groups in American history. Attracted to California by the discovery of gold, the Ducks acquired a reputation for criminal activities that was remarkable even during the gold rush era in San Francisco" (Ricards).

The caption reads in full: "James Stuart hung by the vigilance committee on Market St Wharf on the 11th of July 1851. Immense multitude present. 500 of the Vigilance Committee on duty at the execution. His confession & evidence proved him guilty of the murder of Chas. Moore, Sheriff of Yuba County. Of the murderous assault & robbery of Mr Jansen in this city & of the Captain of the brig Jas. Caskie in this harbor, of the robbery of the custom house in Monterey, besides numerous other robberies & murders. No criminal was ever more daring or successful, more reckless or cold-blooded. He was a Sydney convict, transported for life for forgery. His last words were "I die resigned _ my sentence is just".

An excellent example of this rare letter sheet published by the important San Francisco lithography firm Justh, Quirot & Co.

Gonzales-Day, K., Lynching in the West, 1850-1935 (Duke, 2006), p.50; Peters, H., California on Stone, (Garden City, 1935), p.133 & plate 66; Baird, California's Pictorial Letter Sheets, 79; Clifford Letter Sheet Collection, 73; Ricards, S & Blackburn, G., "The Sydney Ducks: A Demographic Analysis" in Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 42, No.1 (Feb, 1973), p.20. 

Condition Report: In excellent condition.

Price (AUD): $5,850.00

US$3,771.31   Other currencies

Ref: #5000754

Condition Report