Autobiography of Seventy Years - Vol. 1

By George F. Hoar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
SALMON P. CHASE

AMONG the very interesting characters with whom I have formed an acquaintance in Washington was Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. I saw him but a few times. But on those occasions he spoke to me with a freedom with which famous public men seldom speak, even to intimate friends. I incline to think it was his habit to speak freely to comparative strangers. But of that I know nothing.

When I first went to Washington, in the spring of 1869, I was invited by Commissary-GeneralEaton, whose daughter was the wife of my cousin, to attend a meeting of a club at his house. The club was composed of scientific men who met at each other's houses. The reading of a paper by the host was followed by a supper. The host was permitted to invite such guests as he saw fit, not members of the club. Chief Justice Chase was one of the guests. I was introduced to him there for the first time, except that I went, when I was quite a young man, long before the war, to hear him speak and, with a great many other persons, went up and shook hands with him after the speech was over.

The Chief Justice left General Eaton's house when I did, and asked me if I were going his way. So we walked together about a mile. He talked all the way about the next nomination for the Presidency; about the prospects of the various candidates, and the probability of the success of the Democratic Party if they had a candidate who would be satisfactory to the Republicans who were disaffected with the present policies. It was evident that this great man had this subject, to use a cant phrase, "on the brain." This was before the Chief Justice had his paralytic shock. He was in the full vigor of health, a model of manly strength

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