Daniel Call

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Title page for volume one of Call's Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia (Richmond, VA: Printed by Thomas Nicolson, 1801).

Daniel Call (1765 – 1840), an attorney and law reporter, was most likely born in Prince George County, Virginia to William Call, a county lieutenant during the American Revolution.[1]Although not much is known about his early life or education, Call studied law under George Wythe during the 1780s and began his practice in Petersburg.[2]In 1787, he married Elizabeth Taliaferro, George Wythe's niece. She died in 1793, shortly after the birth of their first child, Anne.[3]

Call moved to Richmond in 1791 to begin an appellate practice, primarily in real estate and equity.[4] He quickly gained the respect of his colleagues and clients as a "knowledgeable, skilled, and tenacious advocate" and joined the top ranks of the city's legal profession.[5] In 1797, Call married Lucy Ambler, the sister-in-law of his friend and colleague, John Marshall.[6] Call shunned politics and chose to remain in Richmond, taking over the practices of John Marshall and Bushrod Washington when they were appointed to the United States Supreme Court.[7] Ideologically, Call sided with the Federalists.[8] In the election of 1832, he supported Henry Clay and opposed Andrew Jackson.[9]

Title page of Wythe's Decisions of Cases in Virginia, by the High Court of Chancery (Richmond, VA: Printed by Thomas Nicolson, 1795). Wolf Law Library copy, with Daniel Call's signature.

Call is best known as a reporter of Virginia cases.[10] His six-volume work compiled reports of cases prior to 1820, as Virginia did not have an official reporter in this time period.[11] In creating the reports, Call relied upon a variety of documents and performed the difficult task of turning them into a workable precedent.[12] Call dedicated his first volume to George Wythe, his second to Edmund Pendleton, and the last to all of the judges of the Court of Appeals.[13] The fourth volume of the second edition contains Call's biography of Wythe.[14]

Call died on May 20, 1840 and was buried in Richmond next to his lifelong friend, John Marshall.[15] His works have been extensively reprinted, and they remain an authoritative source for Virginia law.[16]

See also


  1. E. Lee Shepard, "Call, Daniel" in Dictionary of Virginia Biography, ed. Sara B. Bearss, John T. Kneebbone, J. Jefferson Looney, Brent Tarter, and Sandra Gioia Treadway (Richmond, Virginia: The Library of Virginia, 2001), 513.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid., 514.
  6. Ibid., 513.
  7. Ibid., 514.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. W. Hamilton Bryson, The Virginia Law Reporters Before 1880 (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1977), 17.
  14. Daniel Call, "George Wythe," Reports of Cases Argued and Decided in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 2nd ed. (Richmond, VA: Robert I. Smith, 1833), 4:x-xv.
  15. Bryson, The Virginia Law Reporters Before 1880, 17.
  16. Shepard, "Call, Daniel," 514.