James Kelly (crimper)

James Kelly (crimper)

Infobox Person
name = James Kelly

image_size =
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birth_date =
birth_place =
death_date =
death_place =
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occupation = Bar owner and so called King of Crimps
title = Shanghai Kelly
spouse =
parents =
children =
nationality = flagcountry|USA
website =

James "Shanghai" Kelly was an American criminal of the 1800s who kidnapped men and forced them to work on ships. The terms "crimp" and "shanghaier" are used to describe this type of criminal. Kelly wore a red beard and had a fiery temper to match. A legendary figure in San Francisco history, Kelly was called the King of Crimps for his gift of supplying or Shanghaiing men to understaffed ships.cite web |date=2000 | url = http://www.grandtimes.com/barbary.html| title = The Barbary Coast Trail| format = HTML | publisher = GrandTimes| accessdate = 2007-07-23 | last=Bacon |first=Daniel ]

Kelly kept a boarding house in San Francisco, variously reported to be on Pacific or Broadway. He also ran a number of bars including the Boston House at the corner of Davis and Chambers streets near the waterfront.Smith, 2007.] He also ran a saloon and boarding house at No. 33 Pacific between Drumm and Davis streets

Kelly is highly mythologized, and it is difficult to separate truth from the folklore. Here are some possibly true items about Kelly that have appeared in print:

*His saloon had three trapdoors. When a sailor was needed, one was rendered unconscious with drugs or violence, dumped into a boat through a trapdoor and taken to the waiting ship.
* Cigar makers in Chinatown made up special opium-laced cigars for him to render sailors unconscious
* Some of the bodies he provided to ships were, in fact, dead. Once he provided a crewman that turned out to be a cigar store Indian.
* Fellow crimp Johnny "Shanghai Chicken" Devine shanghaied Kelly.
* They say that Kelly was shot down in Peru.



* Stewart Holbrook, "Bunco Kelly, King of the Crimps" in "Wildmen, Wobblies and Whistle Punks". Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-87071-383-3
* Samuel Dickson, "Shanghai Kelly", " Tales of San Francisco" Stanford: University Press, 1957.
* Bill Pickelhaupt, "Shanghaied in San Francisco," San Francisco: Flyblister Press, 1996. ISBN 0-9647312-2-3
*cite web |url= http://www.missiontoseafarers.org/timeline.php |title= Mission to Seafarers Timeline Alongside World Events |accessdate=2007-04-02 |work=Mission to Seafarers
*cite web |url=http://www.sailors.org/pdf/history1-2.pdf |title= The Lookout of the Labor Movement |accessdate=2007-04-02 |work=Sailors Union of the Pacific
*cite web |url=http://www.sailors.org/photoalbum/balclutha.html |title= Archives: Balclutha |accessdate=2007-04-02 |work=Sailors Union of the Pacific
*cite web |url= http://www.shapingsf.org/ezine/labor/shanghai/main.html|title=About That Blood in the Scuppers |accessdate=2007-04-03 |first=Georgia |last=Smith |date= |year=1988 |work= Reclaiming San Francisco: History Politics and Culture, a City Lights Anthology |publisher=City Lights

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