Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics

By Frederick J. Blue | Go to book overview

9
Chase, Johnson, and the Republicans

Salmon Chase's appointment as chief justice brought a temporary end to the active political role he had played since the early 1840s. He had not practiced law for fifteen years. Nor had he had any judicial experience; since 1849, he had been totally immersed in politics and Treasury matters. It was to be expected, therefore, that the transition from an active political and financial role during the war to a less conspicuous and politically inactive position as Supreme Court justice would be a difficult one. Adjusting to the court routine in early 1865, Chase found himself out of place. His tasks were equally demanding on his time, although "far less anxious than those of the Treasury Department." He did not find the work especially pleasing or the results rewarding: "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."1

During the 1864-65 term, the Court faced few important cases. Many were reviews of circuit court decisions which involved no federal law; rather, they were disputes between citizens of two different states. With little of significance or precedence to be decided in these cases, Chase became increasingly bored. By the end of March, he told General McDowell that perhaps he should not have accepted the appointment because he found "the task of adjudicating cases however important as somewhat irksome."2 But Chase did not confine himself to the specific business of the Supreme Court. Critical

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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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