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Historical Review:

Town Alcalde Organizes a Police Department

The Alcalde issued a proclamation calling on all good citizens to repair to his office at 3 P. M. of that day; and at that hour the largest public meeting ever held in San Francisco convened. Here follow its proceedings and results.

San Francisco, July 16th, 1849.

Extraordinary excitement having prevailed during the morning among the good citizens of San Francisco generally, on account of an attack made on the tents of Chileans in this place, by a body styling themselves " Regulators" or " Hounds," who had been for some time past disturbing the peace of this place, by acts of violence on peaceable citizens — by robbery and murder — the people assembled on Portsmouth Square.

After some preliminary remarks made by Messrs. Brannan, Smith, Stevenson and others, the meeting was organized by the election of W. D. M. Howard, President; James Ward, W. H. Davis, Vice-Presidents ; Dr. Victor J. Fourgeaud, Secretary.

The chairman having called the meeting to order, Mr. S. Brannan addressed the people, exposing the acts of violence committed by the " Hounds," and calling for prompt action on the part of the people, or their lives and properly would be in danger. Mr. Brannan moved that a subscription list be opened at the Parker House for the relief of the sufferers by the riots, assaults and robbery of last night — which was carried.

A suggestion was made to organize a body of men, to assist the constables in arresting the " Hounds."

A police body was formed, of which Mr. Spofford was appointed chief. In accepting the office, he made an energetic address, and concluded by saying — " when I forget my duty, may God forget me."

The citizens generally enrolled their names for police service, and the meeting adjourned.
  Victor J. Fourgeaud, Secretary.

At 3 P. M., citizens to the number of 230 who had enrolled themselves, assembled around the flagstaff of Portsmouth Square. They were then formed into companies by Mr. Spofford, chief of police. Messrs. Stevenson, Wadieigh, Simmons, Smith, Turk, Gillespie, Hughes, Priest, Webb and Stevens, were appointed captains.
Source: Weekly Alta California, Volume I, 2 August 1849 — Page 1
Source: California Star, Volume 1, Number 39, 2 October 1847 — Town Council [ARTICLE]


Monday Evening, Sept. 27, 1847.
All members being present the meeting was called to order, and Judge Hyde stated that Gov. Mason desired the Council to make some provision to secure the lots of those in the volunteer service who, being absent on duty, could not comply with the regulations of the law governing the grants. It was moved that a committee of three be appointed to take the matter into consideration and report at the next regular meeting. Passed. The following persons were appointed committee: W. D. M. Howard, W. A. Leidesdorff and Wm. S. Clark. Mr. Glover moved that E. P. Jones be added to that committee. Passed. The minutes of the last meeting were then read. The Chairman of the committee then read the laws for the government of Constables &c. Moved that the report be laid over till next meeting. Passed. R. A. Parker moved that all the reports be laid over till next meeting. Passed. W. A. Liedesdorff moved that the Council proceed to examine the accounts. Passed. Moved that the business under consideration, be postponed until next meeting. Passed. Mr. Pettet then tendered his resignation as Recording Secretary. Received. Dr. Jones was appointed to supply the vacancy. Moved that the Secretary receive $2 per night for his services. Passed. Moved that a committee of three be appointed to wait on the Governor to request him to appoint a 2d Alcalde, from among our people. Passed. Messrs. Jones, Howard and Clark, were appointed said committee. The committee of the whole proceeded to an examination of the financial concerns of the Town. The report to be acted on next Monday evening. Adjourned till to-morrow, (Tuesday.)

Tuesday Evening, Sept. 29, 1847.
Council met pursuant to adjournment. All the members were present but W. D. M. Howard, who was reported too unwell to attend. The minutes of the last meeting were then read and adopted. The report of the committee on Police was then taken up and all but three sections stricken out. The vote was then taken on the three sections, being 1st, 2nd and 10th of original bill, and adopted by a vote of four to one. Committee on School-house reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again. The Committee on License laws then reported a bill fixing the license tax of the town. E. P. Jones moved that the bill be so altered as to tax persons in proportion to the amount of business done by them. This motion was lost. After considerable discussion the oriinal bill with some few amendments was adopted. Mr. Clark moved that a committee be appointed to take into consideration the building of a wharf. Passed. Messrs. Clark, Jones, and Parker, were appointed said committee. On motion of Mr. Parker, W. A. Leidesdorff was added to the committee. Mr. Clark made a motion in relation to letting out contracts of the Town which was adopted. E. P. Jones moved that a committee of three be appointed to receive proposals for filling up the streets through the Lagoon. Passed. Messrs. Jones, Clark, and Glover were appointed committee. Mr. Clark moved that the committee on printing receive sealed proposals until one day previous to the next meeting which was adopted. Mr. Parker moved that the committee of the Whole wait on the Governor to receive further instructions as to the power and duty of the Council. Passed. A. J. Ellis' petition to receive the appointment of Sheriff was read and laid on the table. The Council then adjourned till next Monday evening.


Sec. 1. Be it Ordained by the Town Council of the Town of San Francisco, that there shall be elected two Constables who shall constitute the chief police of the town.
2. Be it further ordained, That the Constables shall perform all the duties required of other ministerial officers within the town - shall faithfully execute all process directed to them in accordance with law and make due return thereof—shall strictly enforce and obey every law, ordinance and resolution passed by the Council.
3. Be it further Ordained, That the Constables shall receive for the service of any writ or other process, one dollar, to be paid out of the fines imposed upon cases, one dollar for the service of any writ or other process to be paid by the defeated party, also ten cents per mile for every mile which they may travel to serve any writ or other process beyond the limits of the town.
Passed 28th Sept. 1847.

Source: California Star, Volume 1, Number 39, 2 October 1847 — Town Council [ARTICLE]


The following Ordinance regulating Licenses was taken up and read by sections. 1. Be it Ordained, by the town council of the Town of San Francisco, that from and after the passage hereof, no person or persons shall sell or dispose of spirituous liquors in large or small quantities within the jurisdiction

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