Justice Peter Vivian Daniel

Justice Peter Vivian Daniel joined the U.S. Supreme Court on January 10, 1842, replacing Justice Philip Barbour. Daniel was born on April 24, 1784 in Northern Virginia. He briefly attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) but returned to Virginia to study law. After being admitted to the bar, he entered private practice. He also gained some notoriety for fighting a duel and mortally wounding his opponent.

Daniel began his political career in the Virginia House of Delegates. He then joined the Virginia Privy Council (Council of State) in 1812 and became president of the Council six years later. In 1836, President Andrew Jackson appointed Daniel to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He replaced Barbour, whom he would later replace on the Supreme Court.

On February 26, 1841, President Martin Van Buren nominated Daniel to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed him on March 2 in a 25-5 vote, although it appears that he did not take the judicial oath until the beginning of the following year.

Daniel spent close to two decades on the Court during the era of Chief Justice Roger Taney, while the nation lurched toward the Civil War. Shortly after joining the Court, he wrote a concurring opinion in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, which largely prevented states from regulating the activities of slave catchers. A strong supporter of slavery, Daniel also wrote a concurring opinion in the infamous 1857 case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, near the end of his tenure. Perhaps his most notable majority opinion came in West River Bridge Co. v. Dix, which discussed the eminent domain power of the states.

Daniel died on May 31, 1860 in Richmond, Virginia, less than a year before the Civil War began. Justice Samuel Freeman Miller replaced him on the Court.