Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics

By Frederick J. Blue | Go to book overview

Preface

In June 1868, Salmon P. Chase noted pessimistically that he did not expect to be nominated for president at the coming Democratic convention. Said Chase, "The talk about me will come to nothing. The Democracy is not democratic enough yet."1 The chief justice was correct in his assessment and for the fourth time in sixteen years a major party bypassed him as its standard-bearer. Chase knew after three previous disappointments that his position on rights for blacks--in 1868 it was his advocacy of black suffrage-- was too advanced for his nomination. Throughout his public career he had been in the vanguard of the movement for racial justice, first taking up the cause of the fugitive slave as a young Cincinnati attorney in the late 1830s. Through the 1840s and early 1850s he labored in the Liberty and Free-Soil movements until emerging into greater national prominence as a founder of the Republican party. Three unsuccessful tries for that party's nomination revealed him to be too pronounced an advocate of racial equality to be acceptable. Thus when the Democrats rejected him in 1868, Chase was prepared for the outcome.

There were other flaws in Chase's ongoing search for the presidency. Most especially he was regarded by many as an overly ambitious politician willing to stop at nothing to advance his own goals. Beginning with his controversial election to the Senate in 1849, and continuing with his use of the governorship of Ohio as a stepping- stone to the presidency, Chase alienated countless politicians in his

-ix-

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Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vi
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Portrait of An Ambitious Young Man 1
  • 2 - Family, Friends, and Fugitives 14
  • 3 - Liberty Advocate 41
  • 4 - Free-Soil Politico 61
  • 5 - From Columbus to Washington 93
  • 6 - The Politics of Finance 129
  • 7 - The Blue, the Gray, and the Black 173
  • 8 - Chase and Lincoln 207
  • 9 - Chase, Johnson, and the Republicans 247
  • 10 - Chief Justice as Presidential Candidate 283
  • 11 - Chase in Decline 308
  • Notes 324
  • Bibliographical Essay 394
  • Index 404
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