In 1856, Charles Christian Nahl designed this certificate of membership for the San Francisco Vigilance Committee. The graphic program shows what its members to be the essence of their city and state, and their justification for constituting the committee to discourage crime and encourage prosperity.
The eye of vigilance over the angels of justice, with a ballot box between them, drive away the serpent of evil -- all hovering over "Fort Gunnybags," the Vigilance Committee headquarters in San Francisco.
The bases of California's prosperity -- mining, flanked by agriculture and shipping -- supporting industry (represented by the anvil and hammer) and the arts and sciences (artist’s palette, sculpture, telescope, globe, etc.)
“JUSTICE MUST NOT ONLY BE DONE: IT MUST BE SEEN TO BE DONE.”
The vigilance committee hangs two criminals in 1856
Dame Shirley (Louise Amelia Knapp Clappe) described life in the mining camps to her sister back east. After witnessing a vigilante hanging in the gold fields, Dame Shirley contrasted the brutal treatment of the miners with the Vigilance Committee of 1851 in San Francisco: