Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics

By Frederick J. Blue | Go to book overview
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Chase and Lincoln

Chase's diligent concern for his official duties and political goals normally left him little time for his family or a social life. Usually committing ten to twelve hours daily to Treasury concerns, only rarely did he take time to relax. His private life was not, however, altogether lonely, and he devoted what time he could to his family and friends. Although his aloof and forbidding personality did not usually allow him close friendships on more than a temporary basis, Charles Sumner was an exception. He and Chase dined frequently and corresponded on a regular basis when both were not in Washington. The crisis of the war years drew the two men even closer. For a period in the fall of 1862, Chase also enjoyed the company of Major General James Garfield who lived with him while he was in Washington awaiting reassignment. The two spent many evenings playing chess and discussing the latest military news. Chase treated Garfield like the son he never had, and his reaction to the young man clearly indicated a craving for warm and personal friendships. According to Garfield, Chase could even display a "playful and child-like spirit."1 Most of all, what kept Chase's private life from becoming dull during the dark days of the war was the lively and expensive social life and impending marriage of his ambitious daughter Kate.

Kate Chase spent five rather confining years of her childhood at the fashionable New York school of Miss Henrietta Haines where she went first in 1849 when Chase moved the rest of his family to


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