28 / CHRONICLESnsome of them were inconsistent andncontradictory.”nThe conclusions of neither authornare satisfactory. Randall wrenchesnFranklin from his 18th-century context,nwhile Wright seems contentednwith Van Doren’s conclusion thatnSecurity Safari by Odie B. FaulknFranklin was “a harmonious humannmultitude.” But what provided thenharmony, the organizing principle,nthe larger character that unified thenmany small roles? I think it was this:nFranklin set out at all times to play thenpart of the totally civilized and totallyn”Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, thenDevil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whomnhe may devour.”n— 1 Peter, V, 8nVigilantes in Gold Rush SannFrancisco by Robert M. Senkewicz,nS.J., Stanford, CA: StanfordnUniversity Press; $24.95.nThe scene is so identifiable that anynAmerican—in fact, almost anyonenanywhere in the world—immediatelynrecognizes it: a dun-baked,ndusty street between rows of ramshackle,nweather-beaten, false-frontednbuildings. To the pounding beat ofnrising music, a noisy crowd suddenlynpours out of a saloon and swarmsndown the street, drunkenness much innevidence, as a bloodthirsty simpletonnat their front menacingly displays anrope with a noose at its end. Comingnto a halt in front of the jail, one ofnthem shouts, “Bring him out. Sheriff.nWe’re going to see that justice is done.nHe won’t get away this time.”nThe scene shifts inside the jail,nwhere a helpless miscreant locked innhis cell shouts to the sheriff and hisndeputy, who are cowering at the frontnwindows, “You’ve got to protect me.nThose people are crazy.”nIn countless movies and teleplays,nthe accused somehow is saved by anTexas Ranger . . . or U.S. Marshaln… or just a guitar-picking “hero-offthe-street.”nShowing tremendousncourage, he convinces the drunkenncrowd that real justice lies with thenlaw. “No matter what he’s done or notndone,” says our hero about the accused,n”he deserves a fair trial. Let’s letnthe judge and jury decide his fate.nNow go on home.” This note of sobrietynusually makes the chastened mobnaware that their actions have beennworse than unconstitutional—theynhave been downright un-American.nNow that Westerns are no longer innvogue, the scenario has shifted to anNew York subway in the 1980’s. Tirednof the extortion and terrorism of neobarbarians,na rider pulls out a pistolnand shoots his tormentors — and anOdie B. Faulk is author of Arizona:nA Short History (University ofnOklahoma Press) and of othernstandard volumes of Southwesternnhistory.nnnrational man, at once engaged andndetached. By definition, it was impossiblento play such a part; but, conceivablynwith the exception of Voltaire,nFranklin came closer to pulling it offnthan any other man of the age.nlong-suffering public applauds his actionsnloudly. Commentators in thenprint and broadcast media, with visionsnof themselves as sheriff, ranger,nmarshal, and/or hero-off-the-street,nimmediately come forth to berate thenpublic, saying that the accused deservedna day in court where a judicialnsystem would ensure a fair trial andncorrect punishment. “We can’t havenvigilantes loose on our streets,” thenmedia shouts. “No matter what thenaccused had done, they deserve a trialnin a court of law.”nWhen this drama was played for realnlast year, the common thread amongnliberal commentators was that vigilantismnwas evil. It was not the criminalsnwho had erred, but rather society inngeneral and the vigilante in particular.nThis shooting, the media agreed, reflectedna nation where “violence is asnAmerican as apple pie,” and the vigilante,nthey stated or implied heavily,nhad seen too many John Wayne movies.nThe best-known example of vigilantismnin the United States actually happenednnot in some remote area or innsome small town. Nor was it done bynsomeone emulating John Wayne. Itnhappened on the streets and in thencounting houses of San Francisco andnwas perpetrated by that city’s outstandingnbusinessmen. In 1851 and again inn1856, vigilance committees were organizednin the city by the bay, andneach of these organizations dispatchednmalefactors to the next world by meansnof hemp justice.nAs was the case in New York City,nthese actions were not taken because ofnan absence of law. In California, as innthe rest of the American Southwest,nthere had never been a “lawless” period,nthanks to a smooth transition fromnIndian to Spanish to Mexican tonAmerican law. There was no abruptnbreak as political control changednhands.nWhen the Argonauts arrived in Cal-n