Daniel Buck settled in Blue Earth County, Minnesota in 1857, and began practicing law. A politically ambitious Democrat, he was elected county attorney and state senator but failed to win election to statewide offices in 1859 (secretary of state) and 1888 (lieutenant governor). In November 1892, with endorsements of the Democratic and People's parties, he was elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court for a term beginning in January 1894; however, when Justice Daniel Dickinson resigned in October 1893, he was appointed to fill the vacancy. He was defeated in the 1898 election, and resigned on November 14, 1899.
Out of office, Buck researched the history of the Dakota War of 1862. He published "Indians Outbreaks" in 1904. In it he traces the origins of native tribes, which fascinated him, explains the causes of the insurrection, and describes various engagements during the war. He quotes liberally from the memoirs of survivors and combatants. Throughout the book, he expresses his conviction that "the Indian" is an inferior race destined for extinction. He declares, "The master race of the world is the Caucasian," and in the concluding chapter writes:
"Civilization and Christianity have made the Anglo-Saxon race the dominant one of the world, and in all human probability this will continue while human races endure. Its contact with the Indian has sent him into the domain of gradual destruction."
Buck's belief in the superiority of the Northern European race and culture was shared by many academics, businessmen, politicians, writers and others in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most readers of his history in 1904 would not have found it racist or been offended by it because it expressed conventional thinking. It was, in other words, a product of a particular time and place.
But it leaves a question for legal historians of the next century: to what extent did his convictions, so starkly and firmly set forth in his history, influence his judicial decisions?