Author: Peter Bridges


John M. Daniel (1825–1865)

John M. Daniel was the proslavery editor of the Richmond Examiner, a member of the Council of State (1851–1852), a diplomat stationed in Turin, and a Confederate officer during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Born in Stafford County, he studied law and then worked as a librarian before becoming editor of the Southern Planter and then the Richmond Examiner. Daniel’s writing was often abrasive and caustic and he was challenged to and fought several duels throughout his life. He served in the Council of State only a year, until the body was dissolved by a new constitution. In 1853, President Franklin Pierce appointed Daniel to a diplomatic post in Turin, the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia, in present-day Italy. He stayed on until 1861, surviving calls for his resignation due to his intemperate writing. Upon his return to Richmond, Daniel resumed control of the Examiner and became a prominent wartime voice, supporting the Confederate capital’s move to Richmond and Jefferson Davis as dictator. Soon, though, Daniel became one of Davis’s loudest critics, arguing he was not aggressive enough in waging war and that many of the Confederacy’s generals were incompetent. He served as a staff officer under General John B. Floyd and later A. P. Hill, suffering one wound in battle and another in a duel. He died in 1865.