Nothing Fishy About This Guy: A Brief Biography of Salmon P Chase
Meet Salmon P. Chase, a prominent attorney in Cincinnati in the pre-civil war years. As a lawyer in Cincinnati, Salmon achieved a national reputation for opposing slavery and defending slaves who were trying to find freedom in the North. His fervor in defending runaway slaves was so strong that he soon earned the title of “attorney general for fugitive slaves” by both friends and enemies. As if his real name wasn’t bad ass enough.
While serving as a U.S. senator and governor of Ohio, Salmon became a vocal leader in the newly formed Republican Party. Chase developed a strong following from Republicans and Abolitionist alike. After losing the Republican nomination for president in 1860, he backed Abraham Lincoln, and was rewarded with a cabinet position after Lincoln was elected. Named secretary of the Treasury, Chase was credited for developing our national system of banking and opening a market for bonds and stabilized currency.
After losing the party’s nomination bid to Lincoln once again in 1864, he was appointed by Lincoln as chief justice of the Supreme Court, where he served until he died in 1873.As Chief Justice, Chase continued to speak out for the rights of African Americans who were freed by the 13th amendment in 1865. Chase also presided over the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson as Chief Justice in 1868. The trial came out in Johnson’s favor, due mainly to Chase’s impartiality and sense of fairness during the trial. It’s more likely that he felt sorry for Johnson; because he thought he was a wuss.Afterward, Chase made two more unsuccessful attempts to run for president before dying of a stroke.
So there you have it folks: Salmon Portland Chase, defender of rights for slaves both fugitive and liberated, founder of our national banking system, and sixth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A man with a passion for equal protection of the law for everyone, and a pivotal figure in the Abolition Movement here in Cincinnati. This Salmon truly did swim against the currents of the political stream.