Salmon P. Chase: A Life in Politics

By Frederick J. Blue | Go to book overview

5
From Columbus to Washington

In the fall of 1854, Chase wrote to Charles Sumner, "I am now without without a party." Earlier that year he had been deeply involved in the Kansas-Nebraska controversy. In January 1854, Stephen A. Douglas moved to organize the territory. Douglas's complex motives included the desire to promote the construction of a transcontinental railroad and the development and settlement of western territories. Equally important, he hoped to find a compromise solution on territorial slavery which might please both northern and southern moderate Democrats and unite and reinvigorate his divided party.1 Chase, who had based so much of his senatorial career on resisting compromise on slave-related issues, immediately led the opposition to Douglas's efforts. To Chase the Illinois senator was intent on giving the South what it demanded, which ultimately included repeal of the ban on territorial slavery north of the 36°30′ line in the Missouri Compromise of 1820. When the Pierce administration endorsed the bill, Chase concluded that Douglas had "out southernized the South; and has dragged the timid and irresolute administration along with him."2

Chase's role in the controversy began with his seemingly routine request on January 24, 1854 to delay Senate discussion of the Kansas-Nebraska bill for a week. His famous indictment of the Douglas bill, "The Appeal of the Independent Democrats in Congress to the People of the United States," was completed on January 19 and published several days later in the National Era. It was

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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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