Justice Peter Daniel

On this date in 1841, Peter Daniel was nominated by President Martin Van Buren as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.  Daniel was born in Stafford County, Virginia to a old, established family.  He attended the College of New Jersey for one year before “reading the law” with Edmund Randolph, who was President George Washington’s Secretary of State and Attorney General.  Daniel was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1808.  In 1809, Daniel was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.  In 1812, Daniel joined the Virginia Privy Council, which was an executive advisory board to the Governor, which he would serve on for another 23 years.  In 1818, Daniel was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, which along with his Privy Council position, was one he held until 1835.  In 1835, Daniel was nominated by President Andrew Jackson and later confirmed to the position of Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he replaced Judge Philip Barbour who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court.  In 1841, Daniel was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court where interestingly enough he replaced Justice Philip Barbour who had passed away.  While on the Court, Justice Daniel was a strong advocate for state’s rights, even referring to the United States as the “American Confederacy” and believed the establishment of a national bank was unconstitutional.  During his 18 years on the bench, he provided a strong Southern rural agrarian perspective and concurred in Dred Scott v. Sanford.  Justice Peter Daniel died on May 31, 1860 in Richmond, Virginia just six months before the start of the U.S. Civil War.  If he had lived, it was widely speculated Justice Daniel would have resigned his position in support of the cause of the Confederacy.