United States/Union Secretary of the Treasury. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. b. 1808 d. 1873.
Born in Cornish, New Hampshire and graduated from Dartmouth College, Samuel P. Chase's career began with studying law in Washington and then setting up a legal practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, as a religious man with strong anti-slavery sentiments, he became involved with defending fugitive slaves and abolitionists. Doing so meant taking an unpopular course which is said to have lost him paying clients in exchange for defending clients who usually could not afford his services.
From 1840 through 1849, Chase was involved in the formation and business of the Liberty and Free Soil parties. In 1848 the two parties became one under the Free Soil moniker. Their primary platform was "no more slave states and no more slave territories."
In 1850, Chase was elected to the United States Senate, and in 1856, Chase became governor of Ohio. In both places he continued his fervent opposition to slavery. In 1856, Salmon P. Chase began a crusade towards the presidency. It was a position he felt he had earned and deserved. When he lost in 1860 to Abraham Lincoln, it was a set-back ne never really adjusted to. He would run again in 1864 (against Lincoln's re-election) and 1868.
In 1861, Chase accepted the position of Secretary of the Treasury in Lincoln's cabinet. Although he freely confessed ignorance of financial and economic matters, Chase was involved in creating the Internal Revenue Division and a national banking system. He also enabled the printing of paper money during the American Civil War with the Legal Tender Acts of 1862 and 1863. It was Chase who insisted the words "In God We Trust" be printed on all paper money. Later, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he would declare the Legal Tender Acts unconstitutional.
After being named to Lincoln's cabinet, Chase discovered his bitter rival, William Henry Seward, had been named Secretary of State. Both men immediately submitted their resignations to Lincoln on the grounds that they refused to work with each other. Lincoln refused both resignations, but over the course of his service as Secretary of the Treasury, Chase would submit three more resignation letters.
Chase's fourth letter of resignation would be accepted by Lincoln, who at the time was fixated on preserving the Union at any cost. Chase's rabid and outspoken abolitionist beliefs detracted from that cause. Soon thereafter, Lincoln nominated Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There he allowed the first black lawyer to present a case before the Supreme Court, handled the difficult and demanding issues of Reconstruction and presided over the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson.
On May 7, 1873 Salmon P. Chase died of a stroke at his daughter's home in New York. In 1934, the United States Treasury honored Chase by placing his portrait on the now non-existent $10,000 bill.