Very Important Passengers

San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Denis Kearney

As a politician, Kearney was elected as President of Workingmen's party of California in 1877. Denis Kearney.San Francisco California History.

He campaigned against capitalists and Chinese labor. Kearney was arrested but beat charges against him.

On July 24, 1877, anti-Chinese sentiment resulted in the first of San Francisco's "sandlot riots." On October 5 that year, Denis Kearney organized his sandlot party, called the "workingmen's Party of California." On June 3 the following year, a state convention of the Workingmen's Party of California met to nominate candidates for State, Legislative and Congressional offices. On March 11, 1880, Denis Kearney was arrested for using incendiary languages. On March 15, local branches of the Workingmen's Party held their convention and nominated 15 free holders for places of the Board which was to draft a new city charter.

 March 20, 1880, Mountain Demcrat, Placerville, California

On the 9th instant, before a large audience in San Francisco, Denis Kearney used this language:

"There is Claus Spreckles, the biggest d?n thief who ever went unhung and, G?d ? him, I am man enough to tell him so to his face."

For this he was arraigned in the Police Court, on the ground that he had violated an order of the Board of Supervisors, forbidding the use in public of incendiary and threatening language, calculated to provoke a breach of the peace.

Mr. Spreckles is, we believe, the owner of a large sugar refinery, a man of high character and many friends, and of an enviable reputation for honor and integrity.

The Anti-Chinese Movement in California.

Judge Rix, before whom the case was tried, found the defendant guilty as charged, held that the language was calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, and sentenced Kearney to imprisonment for six months and to pay a fine of one thousand dollars, which was the extreme limit of the law. Kearney subsequently gave notice of appeal to the Superior Court, and was released on $3,000 bail.

June 3, 1880, Kern County Californian, Bakersfield, Kern County, California

Our intelligent friend, Mr. A. B. McPherson, was a spectator of the proceedings at the Sand-Lot last Sunday. The occasion was the first speech and presentation of Kearney to his followers since his liberation. Being near the rostrum and recognized as a stronger, he was invited to a seat thereon and had an opportunity to observe and study the audience. It numbered 7,000 to 8,000 apparently respectable and earnest people. There was a notable absence of the "rough" and "hoodlum" element.

Denis Kearney.

Kearney was most enthusiastically received. He made a long and violent speech that, in the intervals of applause, was listened to with breathless attention. Since his imprisonment he has changed his tune in regard to the Railroad monopoly, and was particularly violent violent in his denunciations of it. It will be remembered that after he was lodged in jail, it seemed particularly anxious to keep him there, and hence probably the change in his views. He looked considerably the worse for his punishment. He said he had been shown no favors, and that his excessive sentence was due to a coercive influence exercised upon Judge Fix by the council of two hundred. If Kearney from this onward should prove honest and denounce the Railroad monopoly and the bonanza kings unsparingly on every occasion, he will soon become a power in the politics of this State.

Eventually his party succeeded in banning Chinese immigration (1882). Kearney subsequently became President of San Francisco Anti-Monopoly League (1883). Letter introduces H.C. Murphy, a professional thug.

Mooneysville was a settlement established by Con Mooney and Denis Kearney on the Ocean Beach below the Cliff House in 1883.

August 11, 1883, Kern County Californian, Bakersfield, Kern County, California

Kearney Challenged by a Chinaman In New York.

Wong Chiu Foo writes the Sun, on July 25th, as follows: "I wish to challenge Denis Kearney to a public debate, to be kept by him, if possible, within the bounds of decency, on a comparison of the Chinese and Irish nations?their art, their science, their morals, their history, their literature and their personal cleanliness. That Kearney may not have to beg the price of his hall, as usual, I pledge myself to contribute half of the cost of the building."

The New York Star of July 26th has the following:

"Rumors touching one of the most remarkable possible duels of the epoch filled the air yesterday, and for a time the telegraphers' strike and the fire on the East river ceased to be the principal subject of general conversation. Fired with an ardent love for his own race, editor Wong Chin Foo, of the Celestial organ, the Chinese-American, determined to resent the insults which he charges Denis Kearney, the sand-lot orator, with having heaped upon it by pronouncing its representatives the "lepers of Asia," and for taking the credit of barring them out, when he had nothing whatever to do with that proceeding. The warlike Chinaman not being able to get any satisfactory interview with Mr. Kearney, wrote him a letter, which was delivered by Mr. Ah Koon, a reporter. The letter stated that Kearney was trying to gain a reputation by vilifying the Chinese and that he was getting up a meeting to denounce them, as he had done in San Francisco; but he must remember that in New York the Chinese were industrious, clean and had a certain power, with a weekly journal to represent their views of filings in general. It also demanded that the orator should make good his assertions and uphold them face to face; it expressed a very strong opinion as to the object of his visit to this city and demanded that he should give the Chinese a fair show to discuss the matter with him. Denis Kearney, on receipt of the letter, at first laughed at it, but eventually ignored it, saying to Ah Koon: "I do not recognize this." When Mr. Foo writes like a gentleman I will answer him like a gentleman."

When Mr. Ah Koon reported this to the editor, his Celestial blood fairly boiled over, and he sat down to his desk and penned a defiant and still more warlike missive, which concluded as follows:

"The law which punishes a challenge to duel protects you from being called to account for your insults to my people; but if it were possible for you to waive that protection, I should not shrink from encountering you with the weapon which is your instrument of war, a 'stink-pot.' Contemptuously, Wong Chin Foo."

This fire-brand was like-wise received with contempt and insolence. The editor was furious and poured out dire threats of vengeance upon the head of Kearney.

"It is monstrous," he said, "that a man like that should defame my countrymen. Why, who is he? Only a big talker trying to humbug money out of the poor laborer. I am only a little man, but I will meet this Kearney and he shall atone for his insults to my race. Inasmuch as Mr. Kearney has not the courage to meet me in any shape, or to reply to my recent challenge to him, I will be humane enough toward him not to press him in the "matter of a public discussion. The public, however, can now form their own opinion of a man who tries to claim honors which do not properly belong to him. His audacious cheek can only be compared with his vulgarity and ignorance."

Mr. Kearney, in reply to the question as to what he was going to do about the challenge, said: "I told the bearer of the letter that if, as representatives of the Chinese race, they sent me a polite and proper communication, I would have replied to it, but I decline to notice in any way the vaporings of a blackguard. The Chinese question is a settled thing, and I have more important business on hand than, fighting with 'chop-sticks.'"

The Annals of San FranciscoThe Annals of San Francico 1855. Early San Francisco.
Frank Soule, John H. Gihon, Jim Nisbet. 1855
Written by three journalists who were witnesses to and participants in the extraordinary events they describe. The Annals of San Francisco is both an essential record for historians and a fascinating narrative for general readers. Over 100 historical engravings are included. Partial Contents: Expeditions of Viscaino; Conduct of the Fathers towards the natives; Pious Fund of California; Colonel John C. Fremont; Insurrection of the Californians; Description of the Golden Gate; The Presidio of San Francisco; Removal of the Hudson's Bay Company; Resolutions concerning gambling; General Effects of the Gold Discoveries; Third Great Fire; Immigration diminished; The Chinese in California; Clipper Ships; Increase of population; and Commercial depression.

San Francisco, You're History!
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, and Performers Who Helped Create California's Wildest City
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, Performers.
Early San Francisco.California Performers.
J. Kingston Pierce
Seattle-based freelance writer Pierce presents a fascinating view of a variety of colorful people and events that have molded the unique environment of San Francisco. He chronicles historical highlights along with a focus on current issues. Pierce touches on the gold rush, earthquakes, and fires and introduces the lives of politicians, millionaires, criminals, and eccentrics. Pierce sparks the imagination in relating the stories of yesterday to today.

Naval Order of the United States.

The Naval Order of the United States The Naval Order of the United States. has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths. When it was established, the Founders provided "that any male person above the age of eighteen years who either served himself, was still presently serving, or was descended from an officer or enlisted man who served in any of the wars which the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or Revenue or Privateer services was engaged was eligible for Regular membership." Today, the Order is a "by invitation only" society, and includes men and women who have served or who assist in accomplishing its Mission, including research and writing on naval and maritime subjects.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year:

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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