David S. Terry of California, Dueling Judge

David S. Terry of California, Dueling Judge

David S. Terry of California, Dueling Judge

David S. Terry of California, Dueling Judge

Excerpt

THE LIFE OF David S. Terry constitutes a significant, spectacular, and tragic chapter in California history. While a justice of the state supreme court, he became the most celebrated and troublesome prisoner of the San Francisco Vigilance committee of 1856. In 1859, while serving as chief justice of the same court, he mortally wounded Senator David C. Broderick in California's most famous duel. At the outbreak of the Civil War Terry aroused grave concern among Union sympathizers as a potential leader of secession in the West, but in 1863 he secretly left California by way of Mexico to serve as an officer in the Confederate army in various Southern states.

Returning to Stockton after the war, Terry in time regained both professional and political prominence and played an important part in the second California constitutional convention. Thereafter he became involved in a notorious and bitterly contested lawsuit that ultimately brought a tragic end to his tempestuous life and added still further to the controversial nature of his career.

Terry was born in Kentucky, March 8, 1823. The intense Southern sympathies that he manifested throughout his life came to him from his background, birthplace, and early training. His ancestors migrated to America prior to the Revolution, and for the most part became prosperous Virginia . . .

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