|The Wild Australian in Early America|
James Stuart led a fairly normal life in Australia in the early 1800s. He had been transported for forgery, then in 1849, after receiving his ticket-of-leave, he went to try his luck in San Francisco, where the gold strikes were attracting hundreds of would-be millionaires.
He was just after money any way he could get it. He gave Aussies a bad name in San Franisco
Stuart he formed a gang of former Australian convicts which successfully pulled off full-scale robberies - until the vigilante squads caught up with them.
Australians were not welcome in San Francisco, largely because of their reputation for lawlessness.
When Stuart killed a sheriff while making a getaway from a 'job' in nearby Sacramento, California's state capital, he brought the full force of the self-appointed custodians of law and order upon him.
Stuart was 'tried' before a kangaroo court of 400 American vigilantes and found guilty of robbery and murder on 11 June 1851. The automatic sentence was death.
All through his trial Stuart had remained stoic. The verdict was inevitable, but the realisation did not strike home until he saw the gallows where he was to be lynched.
Twenty minutes after being launched into space James Stuart was dead.
His was a fate that later befell other members of his gang of Australian outlaws.
The vigilantes were determined to clean up the town of San Francisco at all costs, and they eventually succeeded in bringing to an end the crime rampage which had temporarily given Australia a bad name.