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David C. Broderick


Picture of David C. Broderick
CA Blue Book 2000
Date Party Office Votes Result
01-08-1850 Nonpartisan SD-San Francisco 0 Win
10-07-1850 Democratic SD-06 0 Win
01-09-1851 Democratic Lieutenant Governor 0 Win
01-10-1857 Democratic Senate1 0 Win

Candidate Biography:

David Colbreth Broderick
Born: February 4, 1820 in Washington, DC
Killed: September 16, 1859 near San Francisco, CA

1846: Member, New York City Charter Convention [New York]
1849: Member, San Francisco Volunteer Fire Department
1850: Presiding Officer, Whig Party Organization Convention*
1851-1852: Acting Lieutenant Governor (following succession of John McDougall to Governor)
1852: Candidate for U.S. Senator (Lost; John B. Weller was elected) 
1852: Broderick fought a duel with J. Caleb Smith in Oakland. The weapon of choice was navy revolvers at ten paces. Broderick was slightly wounded when a bullet struck the watch in his pocket.
1855: Candidate for U.S. Senator (Lost)*

  • The 1850 Convention, on February 2nd, was the first meeting of the Whig Party in California.
  • Although Broderick didn't win the 1855 US Senate race, neither did his opponent, William Gwin, and the seat remained vacant for two years. 
  • PLACENAME: The Town of Broderick was named to honor the Senator in the late 1800s. It was the seat of Yolo County from 1851-1857 and 1858-1862. It was later incorporated into the City of West Sacramento. The City of West Sacramento maintains a Broderick Boat Ramp on the Sacramento River. Broderick Street in San Francisco is named for this individual. On the TV show "Full House," the building used to film outside shots of the Tanner family's home is located at 1709 Broderick Street in San Francisco. [Source: The Beginnings of San Francisco by Zoeth Skinner Eldredge (1912). Online at]. Also, Mount Broderick at Yosemite National Park (Mariposa Co.) is named for the Senator. [Source: 1000 California Place Names by Erwin G. Gudde]
  • Broderick was born in Washington DC because his father was employed as a stonecutter during the construction of the Capitol.
  • HISTORIC: Senator Broderick was the first and only sitting US Senator to die in a duel. 
  • DUEL: Broderick fought a duel with J. Caleb Smith on March 17, 1852 in Contra Costa County. It appears neither party was killed.
  • DUEL: Broderick died after being shot during a duel with Chief Justice David S. Terry of the California Supreme Court. After Terry spoke against Broderick at the Lecompton Democratic State Convention (1859), Broderick commented "I now take back the remark that I once made that he is the only honest judge on the Supreme bench. I was his friend when he was in need of friends, for which I am sorry." A friend of Terry challenged Broderick to duel, which he declined; "Sir, I fight only with gentlemen of my own position." At the duel, Broderick fired first, before his gun was fully raised (it was suspected he was unfamiliar with the hair trigger in the pistol). As Broderick lay dying, he told others: "They have killed me because I was opposed to slavery and a corrupt administration."[Source: "Field of Honor" by Benjamin Cummings Truman]
  • Interred at the Laurel Hill Mound in Cypress Lawn Cemetery (Colma)

Source: "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present" (U.S. Library of Congress) []
Source: History of Political Conventions in California, 1849-1892 by Winfield J. Davis (1893)
Source: California's Stately Hall of Fame by Rockwell D. Hunt (1950)
Source: Field of Honor by Benjamin Cummings Truman
Source: Last Night of the Session of the Assembly by an Eye-Witness (Sacramento; James Anthony & Co., 1854)
Source: "The Names of the President and Senators of the First Senate of the State of California. Convened at the Capitol of San Jose, December the 15th, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Nine." (1849)