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John Moncure Daniel

Born: 24-Oct-1825
Birthplace: Stafford County, VA
Died: 30-Mar-1865
Location of death: Richmond, VA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Editor, Diplomat

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Richmond Examiner

American newspaper editor and diplomat. He was educated mainly by his father, and read law with Judge John Tayloe Lomax in Fredericksburg, Virginia, but did not complete his studies, his father's death making it necessary to earn support for himself and aid his brothers. In 1845 he went to Richmond, where he became librarian in a small public library, which earned little money but supplied opportunity for indulging his passion for reading.

The first exhibition of his prowess as a writer was on an agricultural monthly, The Southern Planter, to which he attracted so much notice that he was invited in 1847 to a place on the staff of a new Democratic newspaper, the Richmond Examiner. It rapidly became the leading paper of the South. The brilliant invective of the paper led to his fighting several duels. Daniel's "Democratic" principles were of the philosophical European school, and he was enabled to harmonize his pro-slavery radicalism with these by the adoption of Thomas Carlyle's theory (in The Nigger Question), which he interpreted as meaning, that blacks were not to be considered as men in the same sense as whites. He was heretical in religious opinions, and his columns bore witness to much admiration for Emerson and Theodore Parker. He even published Parker's famous sermon on Daniel Webster in his paper. The literary character of the Examiner was very high. Daniel was a friend of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he aided with money, and of whom he wrote a remarkable sketch in the Southern Literary Messenger. Some of Poe's poems were revised for this paper.

Daniel was perhaps the earliest apostle of the secessionists in Virginia. In 1853 he was appointed by President James Buchanan minister to Italy, and while there he took high ground in demanding the same immunities for an Italian naturalized in the United States and visiting Sardinia as for any other American, and was indignant that William L. Marcy did not support him in threatening a rupture of diplomatic relations. He caused some scandal by escorting to a royal ball at Turin the Countess Marie de Solms (afterward Madame Ratazzi), who had not been invited. This matter was the subject of a curious correspondence between Cavour and his minister at Washington. Garibaldi requested Daniel to annex Nice to the American republic, which Daniel declined on the ground that it was contrary to the Monroe Doctrine. His social relations at Turin were for a time rendered unpleasant through the imprudent publication by a friend in Richmond of a private letter in which he ridiculed the habitués of the court, the letter having found its way to Turin. Nevertheless, Daniel lasted more than seven agreeable years abroad.

At the beginning of the Civil War he hastened home, and served on the staff of Gen. A. P. Hill. His arm being shattered, he resumed editorship of the Richmond Examiner. He attacked Jefferson Davis and Edward C. Elmore, Confederate treasurer, with great severity, was challenged in 1864 by the latter, and met him in a duel, where he was unable to point his pistol on account of his wounded arm. He was shot in the leg in this duel. He predicted the collapse of the Confederacy, and died three days before it occurred. Frederick S. Daniel has printed privately a volume containing his brother's leading articles during the war, with a memoir.

Father: John Moncure Daniel (physician, d. 1845 scarlet fever)
Mother: Eliza Mitchell

    US Ambassador to Italy (1853-61)


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