On This Day in SF History...
The "last notable American duel" took place near Lake Merced on September 13, 1859. Early that morning, dozens of spectators convened in a dell in what is now Daly City to witness two of California's most prominent men, United States Senator David C. Broderick and Chief Justice David S. Terry of the Supreme Court of California, "stake their lives against each other in deadly combat."
Broderick and Terry had been friends and allies, but their burgeoning political disagreements led to hostility between them. At the center of their bitterness was their disagreement on the extension of slavery. Broderick was against it and Terry was in support of it. After a period of exchanging public insults, Terry challenged Broderick to a duel.
On the morning of the duel, the men took their places 10 yards apart. They drew their pistols on a count of "one,"and Broderick's gun misfired into the ground as Terry shot Broderick directly in the chest. Broderick was wounded and rushed to the Haskell House in Fort Mason where he fought for his life for three days. He died on September 16, 1859. On his deathbed he said: "They killed me because I was opposed to the extension of slavery and the corruption of justice."
Outrage over Broderick's death led to a change in sentiment regarding dueling. The Broderick-Terry Duel site is California Historical Landmark No. 19 and marks the location of the "famous duel that ended dueling in California." You can access the site at 1100 Lake Merced Blvd, or by entering the Broderick-Terry Duel Landmark Park at 50 El Portal Way in Daly City.