In the summer of 1848, Chase helped bring to fruition an antislavery political coalition, although many obstacles still impeded the kind of union he desired. Most serious was the selection of a candidate to lead the new third-party ticket. The Ohio and Massachusetts June conventions had deliberately avoided nominations, but the Barnburners at their Utica meeting had chosen Martin Van Buren and insisted on his candidacy as a requirement for their participation in the coalition movement. Chase knew that Van Buren's extreme partisanship as a Democratic leader and his highly questionable record on slave related issues made him an undesirable candidate for Conscience Whigs and Liberty men. Chase found him acceptable because of his vote-getting ability and his own Democratic leanings; but more typical was Liberty editor Austin Willey's view of Van Buren as "an old politician of the most servile stamp." At sixty-five Van Buren was sincere in his desire to remain in retirement rather than lead a movement with so little chance of success, but the young Barnburners would accept no substitute.1 Chase realized that reconciling these differences would be difficult.
An easier task for Chase was to persuade John R. Hale to withdraw as the Liberty candidate and let the Buffalo convention make the final choice. Hale had quickly agreed to accept the decision of the Buffalo meeting, noting that if a "union of all the opponents of slavery" could be formed he was "not only ready but anxious to withdraw." On July 13, Bailey's National Era reported publicly what