Salmon P. Chase


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 23, 1861

The March 23, 1861 edition of Harper's Weekly featured a stunning portrait of Major Anderson's command at Fort Sumter.  The paper also features important news associated with the opening days of the Civil War. The issue also features a portrait of Abner Doubleday, popularly remembered as the inventor of baseball, on the cover.


Major Anderson's Command

Major Anderson's Command

General Twiggs's Surrender

Affairs in Texas

The Alamo

The Alamo

Salmon P. Chase

Salmon P. Chase

Robert Anderson's Command

San Antonio Plaza

The San Antonio Plaza







MARCH 23, 1861.]





SALMON PORTLAND CHASE, present Secretary of the Treasury, was born at Cornish, New Hampshire, January 13, 1808. His father died when he was nine years of age ; and, three years later, Salmon was sent to Worthington, Ohio, where he lived with his uncle, Philander Chase, then Episcopal Bishop of that State. The Bishop having accepted the Presidency of Cincinnati College, young Chase became a resident of that city. He had been a studious boy both in New Hampshire and in Ohio, and he was soon promoted to the Sophomore class of the college over which his uncle presided. He remained, however, not more than a year in Cincinnati, when he returned to his mother's home, then at Keene, New Hampshire, and in 1824 entered the Junior Class of Dartmouth College. He was known as an industrious student, of exemplary character, and in 1826 graduated with distinguished reputation. Soon after he opened a classical school in Washington; and gave instruction to the sons of Henry Clay, William Wirt, and other men then distinguished. While conducting his school he pursued the study of the law, under the direction of William Wirt; and in 1829 was admitted to the bar of the District of Columbia.

Jr. the spring of 1830 Mr. Chase returned to Cincinnati, and has ever since been a resident of Ohio. While a young attorney, with good prospects, but without a pressure of business, Mr. Chase prepared for publication, in three octavo volumes, an edition of the Statutes of Ohio, with full annotations and references, and a preliminary sketch of the history of the State, which is now received as authority in the Courts. Through the reputation acquired by this work, and by close and successful attention to business, Mr. Chase soon gained a valuable practice. In 1837, as counsel for a colored woman arrested as a fugitive from slavery, he disputed the power of Congress to impose any duties or confer

any powers on State magistrates in fugitive slave cases--a position which a decision of the United States Supreme Court afterward sustained. The same year,- having been employed as counsel for James G. Birney, who was arrested for harboring a negro slave, Mr. Chase argued before the Supreme Court of Ohio that slavery is local, dependent on State law for existence and maintenance, and, therefore, that the person alleged to have been harbored having been brought into the State of Ohio by the individual claiming to be her master, was of right and in fact free. In 1846 Mr. Chase, associated with William H. Seward, was defendant's counsel in the well-known Van Zandt case, before the Supreme Court of the United States. In an elaborate argument, which was published, and attracted much attention, he then contended that, by the ordinance of 1787, no fugitive from service could be reclaimed from Ohio unless there had been - an escape from one of the original States; that it was the clear understanding of the framers of the Constitution, and of the people who adopted it, that slavery was to be left exclusively to the disposal of the several States, without sanction or support from the National Government ; and that the clause in the Constitution relating to persons held to service was one of compact, and conferred no power of legislation on Congress. In other efforts at the bar, and by his position in the political movements of the country, Mr. Chase rendered his political status evident. Previous to 1841 he had not been particularly identified with any political party. He supported General Harrison for the Presidency ; but disapproving of his inaugural, and of the course of the Tyler administration in regard to the subject of slavery, he united in a call, made in 1841, for a Convention of the opponents of slavery and of slavery extension, which assembled at Columbus, in December of that year, and organized the Liberty party of Ohio. It nominated a candidate for Governor, and adopted an address to the people, written by Mr. Chase, which was among the first expositions of

the political movement against slavery extension, and which argued doctrines that are now recognized as the basis of the Republican party. When, in 1843, a National Liberty Convention was assembled at Buffalo, Mr. Chase was an active and influential member ; and having been  subsequently,   on several occasions, the public exponent of the views and objects of the party, was led, in 1845, to call a Western and Southern Convention at Cincinnati of all persons who were "resolved to use all constitutional and honorable means to effect the extinction of slavery with-in their respective States, and its reduction to its constitutional limits in the United States." The address, read to the Convention of 4000 persons, pre-pared by Mr. Chase, as Chairman of the Committee, argued the necessity of a political party opposed to the nationalization and extension of slavery, and exhibited what he regarded as the necessary hostility of slaveholding interests to all liberal measures. In 1847, at the second National Liberty Convention, Mr. Chase opposed the making of nominations, believing that the agitation of the Wilmot Proviso and the action of Congress would furnish a basis for a wider and more general movement against slavery extension ; and in 1848, anticipating that the Conventions of the Whigs and Democrats would refuse to give that movement any effective support, he prepared a call for a Free Territory Convention, at Columbus, Ohio, which was

largely attended, and which invited the National Convention that assembled at Buffalo in August of that year, and nominated Martin Van Buren for the Presidency. The

platform there adopted bore decided evidences of the influence of Mr. Chase.

By resolutions at its State Conventions the Democratic party of Ohio had declared slavery an evil, and had asserted the duty of exercising all constitutional measures to prevent its increase, to mitigate, and finally eradicate it. Concurring generally in political opinions with the Democrats, and especially in the opposition declared by their resolutions to the nationalization of slavery, Mr. Chase was put forward as a candidate for election to the United States Senate, and in February, 1849, was chosen a Senator from Ohio by the votes of all the Democratic members of the Legislature and of the Free-Soil members with Democratic sympathies.

In 1850-'5l Mr. Chase gave his support to the Democratic party in Ohio; but when, in 1852, the Baltimore Convention, which nominated Mr. Pierce for the Presidency, adopted a platform approving the Compromise acts of 1850, and denouncing the further agitation of the slavery question, and the Democratic party of Ohio accepted that platform, Mr. Chase addressed a letter to the Hon. Benj. F. Butler, of New York, announcing his determination to endeavor to secure the organization of an independent Democratic party. He prepared a platform, which was, in the main, adopted by the Independent Democratic Convention at Pittsburgh, in 1852, and gave energetic support. to the nominees of that Convention. When the Nebraska Bill gave rise to new political relations among leading men in Congress and in all the States, Mr. Chase, who had been prominent and influential among the opponents of that measure, united actively and earnestly in the popular movement against slavery extension which grew out of it.

In July, 1855, Mr. Chase was nominated for Governor of Ohio. Before the expiration of his senatorial term leading public men had zealously urged his fitness for that position, as a representative of the public sentiment of Ohio. His election vindicated the justness of their views. lie was inaugurated in January, 1856. The canvass had been strenuous and heated ; and Mr. Chase, while zealously supported by the great majority of the Anti-Nebraska voters, had received but a cold and reluctant support from many who, on other questions, feared that he might prove an unsafe leader. These fears were greatly allayed by the inaugural of the new Governor; and when the Legislature adjourned in April, 1856, there was neither anxiety nor doubt in any quarter respecting the discretion or ability of Mr. Chase as an executive officer.

Governor Chase's political friends insisted that he should be a candidate for re-nomination as Governor; and a peculiar condition of public affairs, growing out of a defalcation of over $500,000 in the Treasury, forbade him to withhold his consent. This defalcation was discovered a few days before the semi-annual interest on the State debt fell due. Promptness on the part of Governor Chase compelled the resignation of the Treasurer, who had concealed the defalcation ; secured a thorough investigation; and led to the adoption of a line of policy which enabled the Fund Commissioners to meet punctually all pecuniary obligations, and fortunately avert a large pecuniary loss.

A few months since Mr. Chase was elected United States Senator from Ohio ; but leaving accepted the office of Secretary of the treasury, he resigned his seat.


FOR twenty miles round Bentholme there was nothing but talk about Squire Sigister's quarrel with his son and heir, young Mr. Robert, such a jolly young gentleman as you don't meet every day. He was quite the life of the neighborhood. It was understood that it might be partly the young gentleman's fault, but before any body knew any thing of the case, every body agreed that the Squire had been hard on him. And we couldn't be far wrong either, knowing what a chol-


Salmon P. Chase
Clerk's Story



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