After a meeting today to discuss the 2010 Annual West Coast Civil War Conference, a buddy and I went to Daly City to see the reenactment of the Terry Broderick Duel. It was hosted by the Historical Guild of Daly City which had reenactors in period attire.
Terry was a Kentuckian by birth who, at age six, moved with his family to Texas. Orphaned at thirteen, he later joined the Texas Rangers before leaving for California in 1849 to make his fortune in the Gold Rush. Once there, he found there was more money to be made as a lawyer in Stockton. Terry was picked for the California Supreme Court and served on it. As a southerner, Terry believed that slavery was a noble and benevolent institution.
The Kansas debate split the Democratic Party and Terry belonged to the faction of that party that believed that Kansas should be a slave state. His bid for reelection was not successful and Terry blamed his misfortune on David Broderick.
Son of a stonemason, David Broderick was born in Washington, D. C. and taught that trade by his father. He became adept at politics and moved out to San Francisco where he showed his political aptitude by fundraising. He minted $5 and $10 gold coins that had only $4 and $8 of gold in them respectively (and realized a 25% profit on every coin). He was elected to the Senate. Broderick was taking breakfast at the International Hotel (Jackson and Kearney Street back in the 1970s but it may have been elsewhere in 1859) when he read Terry's vitriolic speech that denounced him. Angered, he made a remark that reached Terry.
Terry, being a southerner, was quick to defend any perceived slight against his honor. Said to be quick tempered, Terry was an excellent shot with pistols. He challenged Broderick to a duel and the two agreed to meet. Broderick considered himself the best shot in California and readily agreed to the duel. They met, but were arrested for dueling. The charges were dropped as the parties had not dueled yet and no illegal act was committed.
They met again on Sept. 13, 1859. A coin was tossed and Terry won the right to select the set of pistols. Terry selected a set of Belgian made pistols that were known to have hair triggers. The pistols selected, the men stood back-to-back and paced off. They turned and were given the order to fire. Broderick, unaware of the hair trigger, discharged his gun while it was still pointed toward the ground. Terry deliberately raised his pistol, aimed and fire a shot which fell Broderick.
A doctor examined Broderick and declared that the wound was not lethal. The men parted and Broderick was taken in a bumpy carriage ride to a friend's home in Fort Mason where he died three days later. The house he is said to have died in is still occupied to this day and its occupant says that while it is haunted, it is not a malicious spirit. Broderick was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery and was later removed to Colma.
Terry survived the war. In Stockton, California, he became angry at a US Supreme Court Justice and slapped him. An angered US Marshal rose up and said, "You can't do that," and at the same time, drew his pistol and shot Terry dead. Terry is buried in Stockton. His descendants still live in California.
It was a nifty show that had band music at the beginning and refreshments at the end.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!