Salmon P. Chase

Salmon P. Chase


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Salmon Portland Chase was born in Cornish Township, New Hampshire, the son of a tavern keeper and minor public official. Following the death of his father, Chase lived with an uncle, Philander Chase, the Episcopal bishop of Ohio. In 1826, he graduated from Dartmouth College and later studied law in Washington under the respected U.S. attorney general, William Wirt.Chase established a law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1830. He defended runaway slaves and those who aided them (see Underground Railroad); he also wrote and lectured on Abolitionism and other reform topics. Chase’s initial political allegiance was to the Whig party, but in 1848 he assisted in the establishment of the Free-Soil Party.From 1849 to 1855, Chase served in the U.S. Senate where he was an outspoken critic of the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Joining the new Republican Party, Chase was elected governor of Ohio in 1855. His home state returned him to the Senate in 1861, but he soon resigned to accept a position in Lincoln’s cabinet.Chase actively pursued the presidency. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 1856 and again in 1860, when was considered a frontrunner with William H. Seward. In the latter instance, he released his delegates to help assure Lincoln’s nomination on the third ballot.In 1864, Chase maneuvered behind the scenes, hoping to win the nomination at Lincoln’s expense. Even as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chase hoped to engineer his way to the presidency in 1868 and 1872.As Lincoln’s secretary of the treasury, Chase performed ably in guiding wartime financing. Chase also was critical of the military abilities of Irvin McDowell, Henry Halleck and George B. McClellan.In mid-1864, the president accepted Chase’s resignation, but by year’s end he was appointed Chief Justice. He presided over the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson with fairness and, while often in the minority, sought to protect the former slaves under the 13th and 14th amendments.


The law school was founded in 1893 and accredited by the American Bar Association in 1959. The school was named for U.S. Chief Justice, Salmon P. Chase, who was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Prior to his appointment, Chase was one of the most prominent politicians of the mid-19th century, serving as a U.S. senator from Ohio, the governor of Ohio, and the Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln. He began practicing law in Cincinnati in 1830, and became an advocate for abolition and the anti-slavery movement, lending his skills to the cause of fugitive slaves, often free of charge. He spoke passionately on behalf of African Americans when their status and rights were not recognized and became known as the "attorney general of runaway slaves" for his frequent defense of slaves and those who harbored them. In 2013, members of Chase's family presented the Cincinnati Museum Center with a sterling silver pitcher given to him in 1845 by a group of grateful African Americans. [2]

The Salmon P. Chase College of Law was initially founded as an evening law school affiliated with the Cincinnati YMCA. Classes were held in the YMCA building on Central Parkway in downtown Cincinnati from 1917 to 1972. In 1971, Chase crossed the Ohio River and merged into the Kentucky state university system by becoming a part of Northern Kentucky University (then "Northern Kentucky State College"). [3] During summer 1972, the law school moved from downtown Cincinnati across the Ohio River to NKU's Covington campus. In 1981, Chase moved to its present location on the NKU campus in Highland Heights, remaining within the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky metropolitan area. In 2006, the college of law was rebranded NKU Chase College of Law.

NKU Chase's moot court program was ranked number 22 by the Blakely Advocacy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center for the 2012–2013 academic year. [3] Ranking is based on points awarded for achievement in national moot court competitions. Some of NKU Chase's 2012–13 competition team successes include:

  • Scribes Best Brief of the Year Award (chosen from the Wagner Labor & Employment Law competition brief) [3]
  • National Moot Court Competition in Child Welfare & Adoption Law – champion and runner-up, second place brief, and best final-round advocate
  • South Texas Mock Trial Challenge – octo-finalist
  • Mugel National Tax Moot Court – semi-finalist, best brief, and second and third place best oralists
  • Robert F. Wagner Labor & Employment Law Moot Court Competition – quarter-finalist and best brief
  • Regional Transactional LawMeet – second place
  • ABA Regional Client Counseling Competition – third place and
  • ABA Regional Arbitration Competition – champion.
    , member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina's 1st district. , judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio , US House of Representative from Ohio
  • Michelle M. Keller, justice, Kentucky Supreme Court U.S. senior judge of the United States Tax Court
  • Candace Smith, magistrate judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky

United States federal judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Timothy Black of Brookline, Massachusetts


Eliza Chase

Salmon P. Chase: Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary
And husband of Eliza Chase
Henry Ulke, Artist

Salmon Portland Chase was born on January 13, 1808, in Cornish, New Hampshire. He was the ninth of eleven children born to Ithmar Chase and Janet Ralston Chase. His father died when Salmon was nine years old, leaving his widow a small amount of property and ten surviving children. Chase’s education began in 1816 in Keene, New Hampshire, than at a better school in Windsor, Vermont.

His uncle, Philander Chase, an Episcopal Bishop, took Salmon to the woods of Ohio. Young Chase attended the bishop’s school at Worthington, near Columbus. Chase had no love for the monotonous life of farm work. His uncle worked him hard while he simultaneously studied Greek for two years.

In 1822, Cincinnati College appointed Bishop Chase president of the college. At fifteen years old, Salmon Chase was admitted as a sophomore. The Bishop only served there a year, then traveled to Great Britain to raise money for the founding of the Theological Seminary in Ohio, later to be called Kenyon College.

When his uncle left his position as president the following year to travel to England, Salmon Chase returned to New Hampshire, and enrolled at Dartmouth College as a junior, graduating with honors in 1826.

After graduation, Chase moved to Washington, DC, where he taught school while studying law under William Wirt, who was United States Attorney General in the administration of John Quincy Adams. Although he wanted to practice law in Washington, Chase did not meet the residency requirement.

Ohio allowed him to use the time he had lived there with his uncle after he passed the bar in 1829, he moved to Cincinnati to set up his law practice. As a young lawyer, Chase consolidated Ohio’s statutes into a three-volume reference work. This important contribution to Ohio’s legal literature helped improve his professional reputation.

Marriage and Family
Chase married Catherine Jane Garniss on March 4, 1834. She died the following year while giving birth to the couple’s first child, a girl who died a few years later.

Chase married Eliza Ann Smith on September 26, 1839. Eliza gave birth to Kate (Katherine Jane) Chase on August 13, 1840, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Eliza Chase died of consumption shortly after Kate’s fifth birthday. Consumption, known today as tuberculosis, was a common disease with no cure.

On November 6, 1846, Chase married Sarah Bella Dunlop Ludlow, with whom Kate Chase had a difficult relationship. After Sarah’s death, also of consumption, on January 13, 1852, Chase did not remarry. Widowed three times and haunted by the deaths of four children, Salmon Chase cherished his two surviving daughters – Kate and her younger sister Nettie, who both survived their father.

Kate Chase grew into a beautiful and smart young woman, who was the apple of her father’s eye. She is best known as a society hostess during the Civil War, and a strong supporter of her father’s political ambitions.

The effects of death, always so near, deepened Salmon Chase’s religious fervor. Days spent in Bible reading and prayer, and soul torture for possible neglect of duty in not impressing others with the need of salvation, left a deep mark on Chase.

Chase as a Young Lawyer
As a practicing attorney, Chase made his permanent home in Cincinnati. It was a wise choice. Located on the north bank of the Ohio River, with its busy western trade and with slave territory on the opposite bank, Cincinnati offered splendid opportunities for a young lawyer of ability and strong moral views.

Chase became convinced that slavery was a sin and that African Americans deserved not only freedom but also civil rights. He took part in the antislavery movement and other reform activities. Chase’s legal talents were quickly recognized. He defended a number of escaped slaves in local as well as federal courts, including the Supreme Court, and he was soon being called the attorney for runaway slaves. In 1834, Chase defended abolitionist editor and activist James Birney, who had been arrested for helping a runaway slave to escape.

His most famous case was the defense of John Van Zandt, who had been arrested while carrying a number of Kentucky runaway slaves to freedom under a load of hay in 1842. Chase and William H. Seward, acting as unpaid lawyers, carried Vanzant’s case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where their eloquent appeals for minority rights on constitutional grounds attracted national attention.

Chase’s insistence that no claim to persons as property could be supported by any United States law won antislavery support among those who rejected William Lloyd Garrison’s extreme militant views. It also served to advance Chase’s political standing in Ohio and led to correspondence with such national antislavery figures as Charles Sumner.

Chase in Politics
Initially a Whig, Chase helped form the antislavery Liberty Party, and became one of its leaders, and of the Free-Soil Party in Ohio in 1848, which was dedicated to the non-expansion of slavery. A coalition of Free Soilers and Democrats in Ohio elected Chase to the United States Senate in early 1849.

During his single term, Chase vehemently condemned the Fugitive Slave Law, and used his position to protest measures such as the Compromise of 1850. His Appeal of the Independent Democrats was a classic expression of protest against a conspiracy to nationalize slavery.

Chase’s opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 provoked him to help organize the Anti-Nebraska Party in Ohio, which soon became known as the Republican Party.

In 1855, Chase successfully ran for governor of Ohio as a Republican. Slavery was the dominant issue of the campaign. As governor he advocated public education and prison reform. He also supported reform of the state militia and improved property rights for women. Chase was re-elected as governor in 1857, but his second term was much less productive as Democrats gained control of the state legislature.

Chase’s ultimate political goal was to become President of the United States, but he failed to gain the Republican nomination in 1856. The principal reason for these losses was his radical abolitionist views.

In the meantime, Republicans regained control of the Ohio legislature in 1859 and sent Chase back to the Senate. His chances for the Republican nomination for president in 1860 seemed promising. But at the Republican convention, the Ohio delegation was divided, and on the third ballot, transferred four votes to Abraham Lincoln, which gave him the necessary majority, placing Chase in a favorable position for a cabinet post if Lincoln was elected.

Chase as Secretary of the Treasury
Only two days after taking his seat in the Senate, Salmon Chase resigned to become Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury. Chase had an immediate challenge: the American Civil War began, and it was his job to find a way to finance the Union war effort. Vast sums of money had to be borrowed, bonds marketed, and the national currency kept as stable as possible.

With customs revenue from the Southern cotton trade cut off, Chase had to implement internal taxes. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, later the Internal Revenue Service, was created in 1862 to collect stamp taxes and internal duties. The next year, it administered the nation’s first income tax.

Interest rates soared, and soon a resort to paper currency was reluctantly accepted. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing was established in 1862 to print the government’s first currency, known as greenbacks because of their color. Chase disapproved of them in principle – these were legal tender notes not backed by specie, and could be printed in unlimited quantities and were therefore inflationary.

During Chase’s years as secretary of the treasury, the United States began to print “In God We Trust” on all currency. Chase earned the nickname Old Mister Greenbacks, after placing his own face on the front of the one-dollar bill. His motive was to make sure that Americans knew who he was.

He was instrumental in establishing the National Banking System in 1863, which opened a market for bonds and stabilized currency. The greenbacks, within a new network of national banks, directly involved the government in banking for the first time.

The Emancipation Proclamation
In his diary, Secretary Chase recorded the cabinet meeting on September 22, 1862, where the draft Emancipation Proclamation was approved: “To Department about nine. State Department messenger came, with notice to Heads of Departments to meet at 12.—Received sundry callers.—Went to White House.”

After reading a second draft to the Cabinet, Lincoln issued his preliminary Proclamation, which announced that emancipation would become effective on January 1, 1863, in those states ‘in rebellion’ that had not, during the interim period, ceased hostilities. He issued and signed the supplementary or real Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It says, in part:

Whereas, on the September 22, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

Chase was often critical of the president, whom he viewed as incompetent and confused. His main complaints were against keeping General George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac and the refusal to use Negro troops. Chase’s radical antislavery views, as well as his political ambitions, put him at odds with the more moderate Lincoln.

Chase’s constant disagreement with administration policies gained him a following among the Radical Republicans in Congress. Chase was a bureaucratic meddler whose interests ranged well beyond the Treasury Department. He often involved himself in policy regarding the army and allied himself with the Radicals, while using Treasury agents to set up a political network around the country.

After the terrible Union loss at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, a group of senators, influenced by Chase’s complaints, held a secret caucus and drew up a document to be presented to the President, demanding “a change in and a partial reconstruction of the Cabinet.” It was, in fact, an effort to remove Seward and to advance Chase. On learning of the plan, Seward sent his resignation to the President, who put it aside.

Then, by bringing the protesters and the rest of the Cabinet together for a frank discussion, Lincoln skillfully led Chase to repudiate some of his charges. This hurt Chase with both friend and foe. The next morning he offered his own resignation. Lincoln now held both Seward’s and Chase’s resignations and, having gained the upper hand, refused to accept either.

A Chase associate, Hugh McCulloch, later wrote that “personal relations between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Chase were never cordial. They were about as unlike in appearance, in education, manners, in taste, and temperament, as two eminent men could be.” But Lincoln did admire Chase, once saying, that “Chase is about one and a half times bigger than any other man that I ever knew.”

As the war dragged on, Chase became increasingly convinced of the impossibility of Lincoln’s re-election. The Emancipation Proclamation had been satisfactory as far as it went, he felt, but it had not gone far enough. A new leader with a new approach was needed Chase decided that it was his duty to seek the Republican nomination in 1864.

A group of Radical leaders issued a pamphlet declaring Chase as the man who best fit the party’s needs. The Chase boom, however, collapsed as Lincoln’s hold on the public became clear. Chase was unsuccessful in gaining the Republican presidential nomination in 1864, losing out to Lincoln as he had in 1860. This made Chase’s place as a Cabinet member embarrassing, and soon Chase submitted his resignation. In October 1864, Lincoln accepted it, much to the chagrin of the secretary.

Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
In spite of their disagreements, Lincoln still respected Chase. When Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger Taney died in October 1864, Lincoln chose Chase to replace him and become the sixth chief justice in the history of the court, a position he held until his death.

In one of his first acts as Chief Justice, Chase appointed John Rock as the first African-American attorney to argue cases before the Supreme Court. Soon thereafter, President Lincoln was assassinated, and Chase administered the presidential oath to Andrew Johnson.

Chase presided over the Court during the difficult period of Reconstruction. The important tasks were to restore the Southern judicial systems and to uphold the law against congressional invasion. In December 1868, Chase confirmed the pardon of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Chase was unable to forge a solid majority during his tenure as Chief Justice and often found himself in dissent on important cases.

In March 1868, Chase presided over the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in the U.S. Senate. The Chief Justice brought to the trial a much needed air of dignity and impartiality. As the first impeachment trial of a President under the Constitution, Chase realized that the procedure would set important precedents. He insisted that the Senate conduct itself as a court of law, not as a legislative body.

Meanwhile, the ambitious Chase still wanted to be president of the United States. Abandoning the Republican party, actively sought the presidential nomination of the Democratic party in 1868. He had the aid of his brilliant, beautiful and wealthy daughter, Kate Chase Sprague, who, as Washington’s most lavish hostess, sought to promote her father’s political career. In spite of the combined efforts of father and daughter, Chase never succeeded in capturing that office.

Chase became less involved in politics as his health began to fail. He suffered a stroke in 1870 that temporarily kept him from participating in the Supreme Court. In spite of poor health, he returned to the bench in 1871 and continued to preside as chief justice until his death. Toward the end of his life, he made an unsuccessful effort to secure the nomination of the Liberal Republican party for the Presidency in 1872, but they chose Horace Greeley.

Chase’s arduous duties as chief justice and fruitless exertions to gain the presidency led to rapid decline in health. Chase suffered another stroke at the home of his daughter Nettie in New York City.

Salmon Portland Chase died in New York City on May 7, 1873, at the age of sixty-five, with his two daughters at his side.

A funeral was held in the Episcopal Church of St. George in New York City. On May 11, the body was taken back to Washington, DC, for a formal state funeral, lying in state in the Old Senate Chambers on the same catafalque that had held the bier of President Lincoln. He was laid to rest at the Oak Hill Cemetery nearby.

Image: Salmon P. Chase Grave
Cincinnati, Ohio
A docent in period dress portrays Chase’s daughter,
Kate Chase Sprague, who is buried nearby.

In 1886, the State of Ohio requested that its favorite son be buried in Cincinnati. Salmon Chase and his daughter Kate, who died in poverty in 1899, rest together at the Spring Grove Cemetery outside Chase’s beloved Cincinnati.

In 1877, New York banker John Thompson named the Chase Manhattan Bank after Chase, because of his efforts in passing the National Bank Act of 1863.

Chase received one final honor in 1934, when the United States Treasury chose to place his portrait on the $10,000 bill.


U.S. Department of the Treasury

Salmon P. Chase (1808 - 1873) resigned from the Senate in 1861 to become President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury as the Civil War began. The war created the need to raise money, and with Customs revenue from the Southern cotton trade cut off, Chase had to implement internal taxes. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, later the Internal Revenue Service, was created in 1862 to collect stamp taxes and internal duties.

Sec. Salmon P. Chase
Henry Ulke
Oil on canvas
1880
65 1/4 x 55 1/4 x 4 7/8"
P.1880.1

The next year it administered the Nation's first income tax. In order to further finance the war, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was established in 1862 to print the Government's first currency, known as greenback because of its color. These were legal tender notes not backed by specie. Chase disapproved in principle of the legal tender notes with no requirement for specie backing they could be printed in unlimited quantities and were therefore inflationary. He recognized their necessity in a time of emergency, but later, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he would declare the notes unconstitutional. The National Banking System was created in 1863 to establish a uniform currency. The greenbacks, within a new network of national banks, directly involved the Government in banking for the first time. Chase resigned in 1864, having put the Nation's finances in a more favorable condition. Lincoln appointed him Chief Justice later that year, and he presided over the Court during the difficult period of Reconstruction.


Further readings

Blue, Frederick J. 1987. Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics. Kent, Ohio: Kent State Univ. Press.

Cushman, Claire, ed. 1993. The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–1993. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly.

Friedman, Leon, and Fred L. Israel, eds. 1969. The Justices of the United States Supreme Court, 1789–1969: Their Lives and Major Opinions. New York: Chelsea House.

Hyman, Harold Melvin. 1997. The Reconstruction Justice of Salmon P. Chase. Lawrence: Univ. Press of Kansas.

Niven, John. 1995. Salmon P. Chase: A Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.


What the Original $1 Bill Looked Like

I've been reading The End of Money, a book packed with tidbits about the history of money, with a special focus on the greenback. The book mentions former Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, who was in the enviable position of designing the original US $1 bill in 1862. So who do you think he put on that bill? Himself, of course. Chase wanted to be President, and he figured that having his face on popular currency would be killer buzz-marketing -- obviously, that didn't pan out. Above is a (suitably low-fi and non-counterfeity) image of that first dollar bill, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Chase's visage also graces the obverse of the 1929 $10,000 bill, as a kind of consolation prize for his demotion from $1 fame. Other relevant fun facts: the "P" in Salmon P. Chase stands for "Portland" Chase National Bank was named after him (though he wasn't actually involved in its operation) and in 1869 George Washington replaced Chase on our $1 notes -- by that time, Chase was a member of the Supreme Court, busily declaring his own creation of the greenback to be unconstitutional. You had a good (seven-year) run, Salmon.


5 Things You Didn't Know About Salmon Chase

Salmon P. Chase may not be history's most familiar name, but the former Senator who also served as Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court made quite a mark on American politics. Here are five things you may not know about Chase:

1. He's Probably In Your Wallet

If you're lucky enough to have a $10,000 bill tucked away in your hip pocket, you've seen Chase's face. His portrait appears on the obverse of the giant bill. When the Treasury started issuing the bills in 1928, it chose to honor Chase for his crucial role in helping to popularize modern banknotes.

Of course, Chase's role in the introduction of these banknotes wasn't entirely altruistic. As Secretary of the Treasury, Chase was in charge of introducing and popularizing the first issue of greenback bank notes in 1861. Chase was politically ambitious, so he chose to festoon the $1 bill with an image of a great American hero—Salmon P. Chase. Whatever his motivations, though, Chase did manage to get Americans to make the switch to paper money.

Chase's name might appear in another place in your wallet. Although he didn't found the institution himself, Chase National Bank was named in his honor. Over the years the bank has morphed into JPMorganChase, so Chase's name might be printed on one of your credit cards.

2. He Had an Ear for Slogans

Ever wonder how "In God We Trust" ended up on our currency? Give Chase the credit. People naturally became a bit more conscious of religion during the Civil War, and by the end of 1861 they were inundating Secretary of the Treasury Chase to put some sort of acknowledgment of God on American currency.

Chase apparently felt adding a religious note to our cash was a good call, so he instructed the director of the Philadelphia Mint to come up with "a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition." The Mint's staff suggested "Our Country, Our God" or "God, Our Trust."

Chase liked these ideas, but he changed one of them to "In God We Trust." Congress approved the change in 1864, and "In God We Trust" has appeared intermittently on coins ever since.

3. He Had a Tragic Personal Life

A contemporary biographer of Chase described him as "habitually grave and reserved in demeanor he did not often laugh, and had but a small appreciation of humor." Chase had a good excuse for not being a barrel of laughs, though his personal life was marked by one flurry of tragedies after another.

Chase's first wife died just two years into their marriage, and the couple's daughter died before she turned five. Chase remarried in 1839, but with similarly grim results. His wife and two of his three daughters soon died. He took a third bride in 1846, but she died just six years later, as did one of their two daughters.

4. He Really, Really Wanted to Be President

Chase was never nominated to a presidential ticket, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Chase angled for a nomination for every election between 1856 and 1872, and he wasn't afraid to jump from party to party in his efforts to nab the top spot on a ticket.

In fact, Chase made a career of jumping from party to party. He was elected to Cincinnati's city council as a Whig in 1840, but he soon jumped ship for the Liberty Party. The Liberty Party eventually morphed into the Free Soil Party the slogan-minded Chase actually coined the rallying cry, "Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men."

While serving in the Senate from 1849 to 1855, Chase identified as a Democrat, but his anti-slavery stance led him to become one of the first Republicans. As a last-ditch effort to get a presidential nomination, Chase even helped form the Liberal Republican Party to oppose the reelection of Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, but the party nominated Horace Greeley instead.

5. He Didn't Love Being on the Supreme Court

Most politicians would jump at the chance to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Not Chase, though. Although the aspiring presidential candidate had served under Lincoln as Secretary of the Treasury, he still lusted after a spot in the White House for himself.

Thanks to his presidential ambitions, Chase would often threaten to resign from the Treasury post in order to make a run for the office. Lincoln declined to accept three of Chase's resignations, but the fourth try was the charm for Chase in 1864. Shortly after Chase's resignation, though, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney died. Lincoln nominated Chase for the opening, and on December 6, 1864, Chase became the sixth Chief Justice of the United States.

Chase wasn't a natural fit for the position, as evidenced by his aforementioned continued political campaigning. Although he made some progressive moves from the bench—he appointed John Rock as the first African-American to argue a case before the court—he didn't love the work. Chase held the position until his death in 1873, but he summed up his time on the bench thusly: "Working from morning till midnight and no result, except that John Smith owned this parcel or land or other property instead of Jacob Robinson I caring nothing and nobody caring much more, about the matter."


The Law of the Land: Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase

Photograph of Salmon P. Chase, ca. 1865-1870, via Ohio Memory. Chase’s argument in the Jones v. Van Zandt case, via the State Library of Ohio Rare Books Collection.

With a U.S. Supreme Court nomination in the news recently, this seems like a good time to look at the history of our nation’s highest court. Since the Supreme Court met for the first time in February 1790, ten justices have been either Ohio residents at the time of their appointment, or Ohio natives, including three chief justices: Morrison Waite, William Howard Taft, and Salmon P. Chase, the first Ohioan to become chief justice.

Chase was born in New Hampshire on January 13, 1808. After his mother died when he was young, he came to Ohio to live with his uncle, Episcopal bishop Philander Chase. He attended Cincinnati College and later Dartmouth, but moved back to Ohio in 1830 to practice law in Cincinnati.

Chase was a strong abolitionist, known for defending escaped slaves and those who were arrested for helping them. He argued against the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act before the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Van Zandt (1847), in which a Kentucky slave owner sought compensation from an Ohio abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor for the cost of recovering escaped slaves. Although Chase argued that Van Zandt could not be found guilty of aiding a fugitive slave because slavery was illegal in Ohio, the court ruled against him and forced Van Zandt to pay damages.

Letter from the Hamilton County prosecuting attorney to Governor Chase regarding the Margaret Garner fugitive slave case (the inspiration for Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved). Via Ohio Memory.

Chase was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1849, where he continued to oppose the Fugitive Slave Act and also fought against the expansion of slavery permitted by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He then served two terms as Ohio governor from 1856-1860. (You can read Governor Chase’s “State of the State” addresses for 1857, 1858, 1859 and 1860 on Ohio Memory.) He was elected to the Senate again in 1859, but served only two days before resigning to become secretary of the treasury for Abraham Lincoln. In this role he oversaw the creation of a national banking system (which allowed the sale of government bonds to finance the Civil War) and also designed and issued the first U.S. paper currency. The politically ambitious Chase put his own image on the $1 bill so voters would be familiar with his name.

Chase desired high political office he unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1856, 1860 and 1864, and would later seek the Democratic nomination in 1868. Chase’s relationship with Lincoln was contentious, and he threatened to resign his cabinet position more than once until Lincoln finally surprised Chase by accepting. However, after former Chief Justice Roger B. Taney died, Lincoln nominated Chase to serve in his place on December 6, 1864. Chase was confirmed by the Senate the same day.

One of Chase’s first acts as chief justice was to admit John Rock as the first African American attorney to argue cases before the Supreme Court. He also presided over the 1868 impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and later that same year, confirmed the pardon of former Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Chase served as chief justice until his death in 1873 in New York City.

Thank you to Stephanie Michaels, Research and Catalog Services Librarian at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post! Check back in coming weeks to learn more about Ohio’s other chief justices.


Salmon P. Chase

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Salmon P. Chase, in full Salmon Portland Chase, (born Jan. 13, 1808, Cornish Township, N.H., U.S.—died May 7, 1873, New York City), lawyer and politician, antislavery leader before the U.S. Civil War, secretary of the Treasury (1861–64) in Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s wartime Cabinet, sixth chief justice of the United States (1864–73), and repeatedly a seeker of the presidency.

Chase received part of his education from his uncle Philander Chase, the first Episcopal bishop of Ohio and later of Illinois, and his legal training (1827–30) from William Wirt, U.S. attorney general. From 1830 he practiced law in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became widely known for his courtroom work on behalf of runaway slaves and white persons who had aided them. Originally a Whig, he changed his politics according to fluctuations in the antislavery movement. After leading the Liberty Party in Ohio (from 1841), he helped to found the Free-Soil Party (1848) and the Republican Party (1854). Between terms in the U.S. Senate (1849–55, 1860–61), he was the first Republican governor of Ohio (1855–59). He sought the Republican presidential nomination openly in 1856 and 1860, and surreptitiously in 1864 while serving in Lincoln’s Cabinet in 1868, during his chief justiceship, he sought the Democratic nomination as an opponent of the Radical Republicans’ program of reconstructing the defeated Southern states, and in 1872 he was once more an unsuccessful candidate.

At the 1860 Republican convention in Chicago, Chase permitted the delegates pledged to him to cast decisive votes for Lincoln on the third ballot. As a reward Lincoln appointed him secretary of the Treasury, in which position for the next three years he was responsible for financing the Union war efforts. He held the Treasury post until June 1864, and in December of that year he was appointed chief justice to succeed Roger Brooke Taney, who had died in October.


UNREMEMBERED

Salmon P. Chase

In the summer of 1861, after the Battle of Bull Run disproved the theory that the Civil War would end quickly, the U.S. Treasury Secretary at the time, Salmon Portland Chase, turned to the option of paper money to help pay Union soldiers.

This included the first government-issued dollar bill. A bill that looked much different than it does today.

For instance, the man on the front of the bill was Chase himself who did the honors of appointing his own likeness to the first “greenbacks (named for the green ink used on the back, with black ink in front).

Although serving the same party, Chase was still considered a savvy political nemesis of Abraham Lincoln, when in 1861, the newly elected 16th president tapped him as Treasury Secretary. The feuding didn’t end with the appointment. Seeking the high office himself, Chase’s frustration with the president would result in the secretary threatening to quit until Lincoln diffused the matter, as he often did, with a joke.

Chase resigned from the cabinet in June 1864 shortly before Lincoln was reelected to a second term. Later that year, Lincoln nominated Chase to the Supreme Court where he served as chief justice until his death in 1873 at the age of 65.

Eventually, Chase would be replaced by George Washington on the dollar bill.

But in 1928, more than 50 years after his death, Chase was honored again with his picture on the newly minted $10,000 bill.

The big dollar bills, like the $1,000 bill (Grover Cleveland), the $5,000 bill (James Madison), along with the $10,000 bill (with Chase) were used mainly for large transfers between banks. The largest paper denomination ever, printed in 1934, was the $100,000 bill featuring Woodrow Wilson.

Although it eventually went out of circulation, Chase’s $10,000 bill is still considered legal tender and banks would be glad to exchange it if collectors were crazy enough to pass on the market price that is now ten times more than its original face value.

Chase is also remembered to this day, by a large bank, now a merged institution, with his name still on the logo.


In 1808, in the year that Salmon P Chase was born, in late November or early December, the "mystery volcano" erupted. The eruption was so large that it affected air temperatures, the color of the sun, and cloud formations. It is believed the volcano was located in the western Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Indonesia and Tonga. Scientists are still trying to figure out the (exact) where, when, and how.

In 1833, on March 4th, Andrew Jackson was sworn in for a second term as President of the United States. Jackson had won the election over Henry Clay of Kentucky - Jackson got 54.2 % of the popular vote.

In 1888, on July 25th, a court stenographer from Salt Lake City - Frank Edward McGurrin - decisively beat the competition in a typing contest in Ohio. He was supposedly the only person who used touch typing and is believed to have invented the method. Touch typing is ubiquitous now - but Frank's win is what convinced everyone that the method was good!

In 1957, on September 24th, the "Little Rock Nine" (nine African-American students) entered Little Rock High School. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus had previously prevented the students from entering the school at the beginning of the term with the Arkansas National Guard - they blocked the door. President Eisenhower ordered federal troops - the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army - to guard the students and allow them entry.


Watch the video: Salmon P. Chase College of Law - Applications Open


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