The Green Bag.

VoL. XIV. No. 4.

BOSTON.

APRIL, 1902.

SALMON PORTLAND CHASE.

By Francis R. JONEs.

“"'T’ HERE is one glory of the sun, and an- T other glory of the moon, and an- other glory of the stars; for one star differ- eth from another star in glory.” And surely Mr. Chief Justice Chase differed vastly from his predecessors in office. A child of New England, a foster son of the new and golden West, he was a new type of Chief Justice. It may as well be said at once that he was not a better type. He was what was unanalytically and patrioti- cally called a true American. Jf that teri means a devotion to country and a greater devotion to self, a breezy self-centeredness and an elbowing, pushing ambition, then it must be conceded that it was rightly ap- plied to him. His ambition obscured his view of the just relations in which his posi- tions placed him. He seemed to have a strange disregard for the dignity of those positions, and an overweening sense of his own personal importance. He represented a new era in our politics. His accession to the Chief Justiceship marked a distinct deg- radation in the attributes and attainments previously considered requisite for that high position. He was an arrogant man without the saving sense of humor. He had an inflated conception of his own abili- ties. He was insistent upon the adoption by others of his own ideas and policies. He was always to the very end of his life an aspiring politician, whose great virtues of spotless integrity and unswerving adher- ence to the principle of freedom for the slave alone palliate his later rather devious

political career. Again and again he sought the Presidency in vain. Yet he was a man of great parts, of great decision and firmness, of intense, unyielding industry, of tremendous persistence in accomplishing the work he had in hand. He was no time server Or opportunist or trimmer, but a res- olute man of action. He sought to com- pel events. His courage was almost truculent, although untinged by cowardice. His executive ability was remarkable, and his genius for organization unrivalled. His intellect was clear and his reasoning powers sound, although not quick or brilliant. His life was austere and his principles puritani- cal. His was a character which inspired rather admiration than friendship. Single- handed, by the very force of his personality, he accomplished great things and the nation owes him a deep debt of gratitude.

Ohio was admitted to the glorious com- pany of the States in 1802. Then began, at first feebly, but with ever-increasing strength and grandeur the development of the great West. With ever-accelerating pace the western country grew until it became the centre of population and of political import- ance. But long before it reached that proud position it was a force that had to be reckoned with, an element that had to be considered, and, if need were, conciliated. With only the Ohio River, a tie to bind it to and not a barrier to separate it from slave- holding Kentucky, with many of its in- habitants emigrants from slave States, the slavery question early became of interest

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within its borders, until, earlier than else- where, it grew to paramount political im- portance. Ohio was the political hothouse of practical anti-slavery organization, and the first great anti-slavery leader and champion of the West was Salmon Portland Chase. Organized out of the territory sub- ject to the Ordinance of 1787, Ohio had a

peculiar interest in and could speak with an | authoritative voice on the subject of the |

constitutional import and extent of that act. As Mr. Chase said in his argument before the Supreme Court of the United States in the Van Zandt case: “Ohio in truth came into the Union not so much in virtue of any act of Congress consenting to her admission, as in virtue of a right secured to her by the Ordinance, and which could not have been denied to her without a flagrant breach of faith. The Ordinance itself provided for the erection of States within the territory.

It was the right of the people within the limits thus defined to form their State government and come into the Union whenever the number of inhabitants should reach sixty thousand, and earlier, if con- sistent with the general interests of the Con- federacy. As it was then their right to come in under the Ordinance, and as it was by that instrument made their duty to frame their government and constitution in accord- ance with the articles of compact, it seems impossible to maintain that, by the act of entering the Union, any of those articles could be abridged, impaired or in any way modified.”

It is perhaps impossible for one of the present generation to give successfully a cor- rect and vivid conception of the varied life of the West in the first half of the last cen- tury. The political questions which then agitated Ohio are buried, never to be ex- humed. The commercial interests have so changed that the original causes for the upbuilding of its wealth and population are well-nigh forgotten. The methods of bank- ing and finance, the money centres, and

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even the money itself are so different, that they are unrecognizable. The social con- ditions were then amorphous. The society made up of so many and so diverse elements has since become amalgamated and fused into a coherency, bearing no resemblance to its parts. All these subtle influences must have had their power for good or bad over the individual living in their midst. Espe- cially powerful must have been their force upon a young and ardent man, who went with hopeful expectations from the East and entered upon the new and strange life with the zest of youth and the determination to succeed.

The early life of Mr. Chief Justice Chase was full of incident. But its incidents were of the commonplace order, to which it is hard to give either color or interest. They were ephemeral. His life was that of a politician rather than of a lawyer. And although from 1837 on to almost the end oi his life he was valiantly struggling for one great principle, the freedom of the slave, the pitched battles of that struggle were few and undramatic. Until towards the end they were apparently evanescent. When success- ful at all, the success seemed only temporary. But he fought on, undismayed. At first he was in a pitifully small minority, despised and ostracized by nearly all classes of society. In the end he seemed to be literally lost among the great majority. This moral fight, so strenuously and tenaciously made, reveals the greatness of his character. It was he who pushed the anti-slavery principle on to the plane of practical politics, and organized the anti-slavery cohorts and led them again and again after defeat heaped upon defeat. It was due to his genius and intrepidity more than to those of any other, that success for the cause came at last in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency. Again, in his administration of the Treasury depart- ment, no just conception can be given of the magnitude of the work which he accom- plished, without going into the driest details

Salmon Portland Chase.

157

of finance and statistics and writing a history of the times from the point of view of the Treasury of the United States. These details and such a history are forbidden to the com- pass of this article.

Mr. Chief Justice Chase was born at Cornish, N. H., on January 13, 1808. There the first eight years of his life were spent, “ambitious to be at the head of my class and without much other ambition,” as he said in a letter to Mr. John T. Trowbridge, “with old Ascutney looking down upon me every morning from his mists, and every evening from his royal panoply of gilded clouds, the old Connecticut River rolling by, and the Connecticut Valley meadows and New Hampshire hills over which to roam.” His was the ordinary childhood of the country boy of New England three generations ago, with plenty of work to do about the farm and the elementary instruction of the country school. When he was eight years old his father moved to Keene, and in a few months thereafter died, leaving a much- encumbered estate and a widow with a large family. Mrs. Chase seems to have been a typical New England woman, a self-sacri- ficing mother. She had a shrewd capability of getting large returns from a very meagre income. Apparently dissatisfied with the school of Keene she sent her son, Salmon, to Windsor, Vt., for the winter of 1817-18, where he was under the charge of a Colonel Dunham, who taught him Latin. Upon his return from Windsor to Keene the boy began Greek in 1819 with a Reverend Mr. Barstow, and also took up Euclid. His uncle, Philander Chase, was the Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, an able, energetic and de- voted clergyman, April, 1820, persuaded Salmon’s mother to allow him to take his nephew into his household at Worthington, O. There the twelve-year-old boy continued his school with earnestness and energy until 1822, when the Bishop was offered and accepted the presidency of Cin- cinnati College, the duties of which position

who in

he assumed in November of that year. Salmon Chase went thither with his uncle and entered the college as a freshman. But he soon conceived the idea that by a little extra study he could be advanced to the sophomore class. This he accomplished in a short time. The Bishop, grieving over the poverty of his diocese, concluded to resign his presidency of the college and go to Eng- land to solicit funds for a_ theological seminary. So in the summer of 1823 he went East, en route for London, taking Salmon with him. From Troy the boy walked home to Keene across the moun- tains. Soon after his return he was engaged to teach the school at Roxbury, N. H. His initial success in that position, however, was so small that he was discharged in less than a fortnight. In February, 1824, he entered the junior class of Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1826, meanwhile ekeing out his scanty means by teaching school. He had a predilection for the ministry, but finally concluded to adopt the profession of the law. In December, 1826, he proceeded to Frederick, Md., where he intended to establish a school. But hope of success there vanished and he went on to Washington, where he advertised that he would open a select classical school for not more than twenty pupils. He had only one candidate for instruction. In despair he solicited his uncle, Dudley Chase, a senator from Ver- mont, to procure him a clerkship in one of the government departments. This applica- tion the Roman senator sternly refused. Mr. Chase, however, soon obtained a position to teach in Mr. Plumley’s school, which appar- ently was a fashionable one at that time in Washington, patronized by the sons of such men as Mr. Clay, Mr. Wirt and General Ber- nard. In September, 1827, he became a law student in the office of William Wirt, at that time Attorney General of the United States and in the maturity of his splendid genius. He also added to his income by writing, and was prosperous in a small way, although the

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drudgery of teaching was extremely dis- tasteful to him. He was pleasantly received at the home of the Wirts and seems to have had more or less social success throughout his three years in Washington. There, too, he got his first insight into politics, and saw and heard the eminent men who were then in official life at the Capital. During years administration and

the Adams Jackson

three of John Quincy that of interesting to note that so early as 1828 Mr. Chase was committed to the anti-slavery In that year he was one of those

these ended

Andrew began. It is

cause.

who drew up a petition to Congress praying

for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia. This was his first public political act. He had great admiration and love for Mr. Wirt, who, in 1829, wrote him a letter predicting for hira future distinction and proferring him advice and friendship. of that vear he was examined for admission to the bar by the venerable Judge Cranch, who would not have admitted him except for Mr. Chase’s pathetic plea: ** Please, your honor, I have made all my arrangements to go to the western country to practice law.” Evi- dently the learned judge considered that Mr. Chase had acquired a sufficient knowledge

On December 21

of the law to practice in the West.

The three years of boyhood spent in Ohio largely determined the choice of his resi- dence. Yet, as at this time he wrote to a friend: “I would rather be first twenty years hence at Cincinnati than at Baltimore,” he apparently divined the future growth and importance of the West. He reached Cin- cinnati in March, 1830, and was admitted to the bar of, Ohio in the following June, anc at once entered upon the practice of his pro-

His industry brought him a clien- Although its beginnings were small,

fession. tage.

it steadily increased. engagements which would consume his time he entered into the life of Cincinnati, then the largest city of the West, and soon be-

Pending professional

came well known. During the first three years of his residence there he compiled the statutes of Ohio, familiarly known as Chase’s Statutes. This was a work of mag- nitude, and gained him some distinction. The annotations and references are accurate and valuable, and the work called forth let- ters of commendation from Chancellor Kent But Mr. Chase’s legal attainments were not excessive. He was, as a friend said: “Not a great lawyer, but a great man who had a knowledge of the law.” His business was chiefly commercial. At one time he was counsel for the United States Bank, the business of which he lost in 1841, because his fees were considered too high. About that time, too, he became so engrossed in politics that ten years later his The greatest cause in which he was engaged while at the bar was the celebrated telegraph case of O'Reilly 7. Morse, 15 Howard 62, which he successfully argued before the Su- preme Court of the United States in 1853. From the time that he gained a reputation as alawyer he attached to himself many young men, like George Pugh, at first his supporter and afterwards his political rival, Stanley Matthews and Edward L. Pierce. He had none of the arts of the orator. He appealed solely to the reason of his hearers. He was an effective speaker, although the impression made by his grand, imposing and dignified presence was marred by a hesitancy and thickness of speech, and his speeches read better than they sounded. His great strength lay in the preparation of briefs, and later, in the writing of political addresses

and Mr. Justice Story.

practice had decidedly diminished.

and platforms. In this talent he much re- sembled his predecessor on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, the first Chief Justice, John Jay.

The mob, which in July, 1836, at Cincin- nati, destroyed James G, Birney’s printing press, wrecked the office of his paper, “The Philanthropist,” and threatened personal violence to the subsequent candidate for the

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159

Presidency, aroused all of Mr. Chase’s love of justice, of freedom of speech and of the press. He took part against the mob. In an autobiographical fragment he says: “From this time on I became a decided opponent of slavery and the slave power I differed from Mr. Garrison and others as to the means by which the slave power could be best overthrown and slavery most safely and fitly abolished under our American Constitution; not in the con- viction that these objects were of paramount importance. In 1837 I first publicly de- clared my views in respect to legislation under the Constitution.”” When once con- vinced that a cause was just and that it was his duty to advocate it, no power could turn him from it. To this trait of his character is principally due his noble espousal of the cause of anti-slavery. Consider what this meant. He was ambitious. Remember the hatred and suspicion that even almost every good man then heaped upon anyone who advocated humanity to the slave. Neverthe-

less, with. seemingly nothing to gain and everything to lose, before he was thirty he

threw himself with all the energy of his nature into the fight. He brought to it all his wonderful genius for organization, all his instinct for politics. For it he threw away his chances for political and professional preferment. For it he brooked the loss of friends and the abuse of enemies. For it he jeopardized any hope that he had for wealth. He antagonized both Whigs and Democrats. For twenty years he fought an apparently hopeless fight, without passion, with the per- sistence of pure reason. One cannot but give the most unstinted admiration and praise to his perfect poise, his insistent energy, his magnificent courage. He took the question out of the ddémain of mere vituperation and iconoclastic pessimism, where Phillips and Garrison had placed it.

He made for it a working and tenable politi- |

cal theory. He clothed the doctrine with the Constitution, and argued it until it could not

be answered. He was not an abolitionist. He wanted to confine slavery to the territory where it then existed. He stated the doctrine in an address to the Liberty Party in July, . 1845, as follows: “Against these infractions of the Constitution, against these departures from the national policy originally adopted, against these violations of the national faith originally pledged, we solemnly protest. Nor do we propose only to protest. We have the example of our fathers on our side. We have the Constitution of their adoption on our side It is our duty and our purpose to rescue the government from the control of the slaveholders ; to harmonize its practi- cal administration with the provisions of the Constitution and to secure to all, without exception and without partiality, the rights which the Constitution guarantees.

We believe that its removal can be effected peacefully, constitutionally, without real injury to any, with the greatest benefit to all. We propose to effect this by repealing all legislation and discontinuing all action in favor of slavery, at home and abroad; by prohibiting the practice of slaveholding in all places of exclusive national jurisdiction, in the District of Columbia, in American vessels upon the seas, in forts, arsenals, navy yards; by forbidding the employment of slaves upon any public work; by adopting resolutions in Congress, declaring that slave- holding in all States created out of national territories is unconstitutional, and recom- mending to the others the immediate adoption of measures for its extinction within their respective limits; and by electing and appointing to public station such men, and only such men as openly avow our principles, and will honestly carry out our measures.” This extract is an excellent example of Mr.

| Chase’s diction, clear, forcible, logical. It

carries one on with a sweep that never lets the interest flag.

Up to 1841 Mr. Chase had little to do with practical politics. In 1832 he had been a delegate to the convention that nominated

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Clay for the Presidency. In 1836 and 1840 he was still a Whig, and voted for Harrison. But in May, 1841, he took an active part in the county convention of the Liberty Party in Cincinnati. He had come to see that there was no hope from either of the two old parties for an anti-slavery policy. The Liberty Party at that time was feeble and discouraged. Chase built it up, shaped its policy, merged it first into the Free Soil and then into the triumphant Republican Party. His accession to the Liberty Party was a great joy to its adherents. There was plenty of work for him to do. He almost imme- diately became its leader. He organized its conventions, wrote its platforms and ad- dresses, planned its campaigns. Issues were plenty, the slave trade, the fugitive slave law, the Texas question, and after 1846 the Wilmot Proviso. The progress of the party,

however, was slow. In April, 1847, Chase

wrote to Senator John P. Hale: “I see no |

prospect of greater future progress, but rather of less. As fast as we can bring public sentiment right, the other parties will ap- proach our ground.” Dissensions in the councils for the Liberty Party appeared in 1847, and in the Presidential campaign of 1848 Chase secured the call for a national Free Soil convention, and formally dissolved the Liberty Party of Ohio. He hoped to force the Democracy to adopt his ideas. To his influence was due the nomination of Van 3uren by the Free Soilers. During all these vears, and after, Chase was engaged in He

litigation concerning fugitive slaves.

accepted their briefs without fees and fought |

the cases with all his energy and ability. So constantly was he employed in this work that he came to be called “the attorney gen- eral for runaway slaves.”

In 1848 Chase’s reward

The union

came pectedly. of Free Soilers and presidential election. was to be chosen. The Ohio Legislature was

evenly divided.

| slaught with undaunted front.

unex- | | of the birth of the Republican Party. Democrats had been barren of result in the | it the Northern wing of the Whig Party But in Ohio a Senator | | nor could the Independent Democrats follow

Two Independents held the |

balance of power. By their combination with the Democrats Chase was elected, and took his seat in the Senate of the United States on March 4, 1849. Now had come his first great opportunity. He considered him- self as the representative of the anti-slavery forces of the West. But as a member of a small and despised party, elected by an acci- dent, he received very little consideration and was given no important committee appoint- ments. He sympathized with the Democrats, and said, in July, 1849: “The doctrines of the Democracy on the subject of trade, currency and special privileges command the entire assent of my judgment.” Yet for two years he stood almost alone. Hale, he said, was a guerrillist ; Seward, a Whig partisan. Wade and Sumner came to his aid in 1851, Hamlin, Fessenden and Everett in the conflict over the Kansas-Nebraska bill. Handicapped though he was Mr. Chase was a successful representative of Ohio. He was watchful over the expenditures of public money, impatient of delay, and secured Federal buildings and improvements for his Com- Yet he felt that his energies belonged to the cause of anti-slavery. For that cause he spent them freely. His speeches on the Compromise of 1850 and the KKansas-Nebraska bill had an incalculable effect throughout the country, and much added to his reputation. He became 4 national character. The appeal of the Inde- pendent Democrats was written by him, and published on January 25, 1854. It unmasked the design of Douglas, who came into the Senate on the thirtieth, and attacked Chase The latter met the on- In this con- test he showed himself a bold parliamen- tarian, a sagacious and skillful leader. It was this debate that was the efficient cause After

monwealth.

with reckless fury.

could no longer affiliate with the Southern,

Douglas. Chase, more than any other man,

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161

brought about this situation, which was so pregnant of results. In 1851 his assertions of his Democracy somewhat separated him from the Free Soil Party. But in 1852 he was compelled to return to it by the nomin- ation of Pierce to the Presidency by the Democrats. In the next year Chase made a strenuous campaign in Ohio, but the Legislature returned had a clear Democratic majority, and Pugh was elected to his seat in the Senate. Unlike Clay, Webster and Seward, on no phase of the slavery question had he yielded or compromised. He had made himself a power in the Senate. There was no one to take his place.

Immediately upon the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill steps were taken to organize a new party. In this great move- ment Chase had a large share. In Ohio the State election showed a majority of eighty thousand for the Republican ticket. In the following year Chase was nominated by that party for the governorship and elected. Ohio had now become a pivotal State in national affairs, but its chief magistrate had very little power and no right of veto. With very few appointments and hardly any official prestige the Governor had small opportunity to affect the destiny of the State. Yet he was certain to be held responsible for the faults of subordinate officers over whom he had no control. Chase was not a popular Governor. He did what he could with his accustomed

etficiency. He said of his administration:

“T sought to promote all practicable reforms; |

endeavored to reorganize the mili-

tary system of the State, and omitted no |

opportunity of making the voice of Ohio heard on the side of freedom and justice. At the same time I endeavored, as far as prac- ticable, to conciliate opposition founded on misapprehension, and succeeded finally in organizing a compact and powerful party, based on the great principles of freedom and free labor.” Meanwhile he began to look for a wider field. His position in national politics was eminent. He already saw the

|

|

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triumph of the cause for which he had so long and so ably fought. He believed that he had the qualities of a President, and that he stood for the principles of the Republican ~ Party. He entered upon a personal canvas for the nomination in 1856. The result is known. Again in 1860 he sought the Re- publican nomination to the Presidency, and it seemed to be within his grasp. In 1857 he had been triumphantly re-elected Governor of Ohio. In 1858 he went to New Engiand and to commencement at Dartmouth. This tour was apparently for political purposes only. He stirred up his old friends to work for him. He beguiled his old rivals to take the field for him with enthusiasm. It was important for him to keep his standing as a public man by showing his strength in Ohio, and on February 3, 1860, he was elected for a second time to the Senate of the United States. All his activity was in vain. Lincoln was nominated and elected. Chase was one of the commissioners from Ohio to the abortive peace conference at Washington in February, 1861, and in March was made Secretary of the Treasury by the President.

It is impossible here to more than refer in the barest generalities to Mr. Chase's administration of the Treasury. The re- sponsibilities of that position at that time were enormous, the work stupendous, the problems novel. He ably met them all. To the great Secretaries of the Treasury, Morris

and Hamilton, must be added the name of

Chase. Previously unacquainted with finance, unlearned in political economy, his success was marvellous, his judgment un- erring. What mistakes he made were forced upon him by the exigencies of circum- stances, not because he had faith in the measures adopted. For three years he worked incessantly, unsparingly. He seem- ed almost to extort bread from stones, and turn water into wine. He provided funds for the government with which to carry on the war. He reorgeznized the whole Treas- ury department. He evolved and forced

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through Congress the national bank system. He provided for the confiscation and sale of rebel property. He supervised the prohibi- tions of trade with the enemy. Through it all he was insistent upon the vigorous prose- cution of the war. He wrote to the generals of the army urging action. He constantly, in season and out of season, urged the aboli- tion of slavery. He was impatient with Lin- coln. The strain of the times was great. Passions were aroused to fever heat. Politics were rampant. All things were unsettled and adrift. Chase was not a man to sink his own personality for the good of a cause. He could not understand Lincoln. Not under- standing him, he could not appreciate him. Their intercourse was never cordial. Again and again Chase tendered his resignation because of some minor difference of opinion or some interference by the President with the right, which the Secretary claimed, to ap- point his own subordinates. Chase’s cam- paign for the Presidential nomination in 1863 and 1864 severely strained his relations with Lincoln. In that campaign he saw nothing disloyal to his chief or incompatible with honor. He not only greatly coveted the position, but he veritably believed that he would make a better President, and that it was his patriotic duty to try to obtain the place. Lincoln, on the other hand, was in this, as in all things, long suffering. He ap- preciated the invaluable work which Chase had done and was doing. He respected and honored his ability and his manhood. He said that “Chase is about one and a half times bigger than any other man I ever knew.” But even Lincoln’s patience was exhausted at last. In June, 1864, there came a political crisis over the question of the ap- pointment of an assistant treasurer at New York. The Secretary for the fourth or fifth time formally resignation. Much to his surprise and disappointment the President promptly accepted it on June 30. It was hard for the Secretary to believe that the administration could get along without

tendered his

his services. Mr. Chase went to New Eng- land for some weeks, returned to Washing- ton, and then to the West, to support actively and cordially Lincoln’s campaign. On October 12, 1864, Mr. Chief Justice Taney died. On December 6 the President nomi- nated Mr. Chase to the vacancy. The nomi- nation was immediately confirmed by the Senate. He had previously expressed him- self as desiring this place above all others. But Lincoln’s shrewd estimate of men was never better shown than when, prior to mak- ing the nomination, he asked Sumner ii Chase would be contented to remain Chief Justice.

The appointment was in more ways than one unfortunate. It ended the line of Chief Justices of the United States who were both great and greatly learned in the law. It was impossible for such venerable and able magistrates and lawyers as Mr. Justice Nelson and Mr. Justice Grier to look up to their new chief with admiration or confi- dence. He had no decided love for his profession, no especial interest in his judicial work, no deep reverence for the judicial function. Yet for eight years the new Chief Justice presided over his court with dignity and grace. His ability was adequate to the great office. Eight years were too short a time, however, for him to make a decided impress upon the course of judicial judg- ments. His personality, moreover, was not such as to make his influence paramount with his associates on the bench. But he was eminently fitted to deal authoritatively with the grave questions of reconstruction which came before the court for decision, and he studied with vigor to make himself a competent judge upon ordinary matters of litigation. With his previous training it is remarkable that he attained the judicial suc- cess that he did. His influence, too, was much curtailed by his unfortunate continued pursuit of the Presidency. The ermine oi the judge could not conceal the aspirations

of the politician. His mind was executive

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163

rather than judicial. In 1867 he began to make his plans to capture the Republican nomination in the following year. He could arouse no enthusiasm. In March, 1868, it became apparent that Grant would be nomi- nated, and Chase withdrew from the contest. Yet with singular fatuity he strove to grasp the eagerly desired Frize at the hands of the Democracy. He was alarmed and disgusted by the measures of the Republicans. While hoping and striving for their nomination he thought that as President he could control and direct the party. But by April he had brought himself to believe that the Republi- can party had been created for an especial purpose which had been accomplished, that it was a temporary organization, brought into being by a crisis that had passed. At heart he was always a Democrat. As a judge he strove to curtail the limits of Fed- eral power. In September, 1868, he wrote:

“T hold my old faith in universal suffrage, in | | lamations of April and August, 1866, de-

reconstruction upon that basis, in universal amnesty, and in inviolate public faith; but I do not believe in military government for American States, nor in military commis- sions for the trial of American citizens, nor in the subversion of the executive and judicial departments of the general govern- ment by Congress.” This is his justification for changing his party. The change was fruitful of no other result than loss of in- fluence and prestige. Again in 1872 he pulled wires for the Democratic nomi- nation. Again his desires and hopes were vain. All these excessive activities and anxieties at last had their effect upon the splendid physique of the Chief Justice. In August, 1870, he had a severe stroke ol paralysis. again sat with the court during the terms of 1871-72 and 1872-73. Upon the rising of the court in the latter year he went to New York, where, upon May 6, he experienced a second stroke, from which he died on the following day.

During the Civil War the Supreme Court

From this he slowly rallied and |

of the United States was in a humiliating position, silent leges inter arma. Its juris- diction was limited by extrajudicial tribu- nals, its authority impaired. —It refused to- entertain appeals from those parts of the country that were in rebellion. One of its ablest justices resigned in order to join in the effort to overthrow the government that he had sworn to support. But by 1866 the court began “to render a series of brilliant and far reaching decisions, which at the same time restored its own prestige, crystal- lized the body of law arising out of the Civil War and moderated the excesses of Con- gress. All the questions which finally stood forth for judical decision had been presented to Chase while he was Secretary of the Treasury, and upon most of them he had made up his mind.” But I intend here only to refer briefly to four episodes of his judicial career.

Even after President Johnson’s two proc-

claring the war ended, the Chief Justice steadfastly refused to hold any court in Virginia or North Carolina, until all possi- bility that the judiciary would be subordi- nate to the military power was removed. Jefferson Davis had been arrested on May 10, 1865, confined in Fortress Monroe, and indicted for treason in the District of Colum- bia. That indictment, however, was not prosecuted, and in May, 1866, a true bill was found against him in the District of Virginia for waging and levying war upon the United States while owing them faith and allegi- ance. The penalty for this offence was a fine not exceeding $10,000, or imprisonment not exceeding ten years or both. The Chief Justice believed that a military commission was the suitable tribunal. But in May, 1867,

_the President threw the responsibility of

Davis’s trial upon the judiciary by surren- dering him to the custody of the Federal Court under a habeas corpus issued by Mr. Chief Justice Chase. Judge Underwood then admitted him to bail, and the trial was

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The Green Bag.

continued from term to term until June, 1868. Then the Chief Justice for the first time sat as a judge in the Circuit Court for the Dis- trict of Virginia. By agreement of counsel the case was postponed until the fourth Monday of November. The plea was then made that Davis was one of those included in the Fourteenth Amendment, wherein the penalties enumerated took the place of any previously incurred. The Chief Justice ap- proved it and the Circuit Judge was of the contrary opinion. The Court therefore certi- fied its difference of opinion to the Supreme Court. A few days later, December 25, 1868, the President issued his proclamation of general amnesty, and at the next term of the Circuit Court Davis was discharged. The most imposing duty which the Chicf Justice was called upon to perform was pre- ‘siding at the trial of the President of the United States, impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, before the Senate. There were no precedents by which the Chief Jus- tice’s conduct could be guided. The trial was instituted by rank partisanship and political intrigue. There was no desire upon the part of the managers of the prosecution for justice. The Republicans of the Senate were hostile to and suspicious of the Chief Justice. They sought by every means in their power to limit his influence and curtail his authority. He successfully in- sisted that his position was not that of a moderator, but that of the presiding judge of a judicial tribunal.

to the revision of the Senate, if a vote was

demanded. It was agreed by the Republi-

cans that upon the first attempt of the Chief |

Justice to vote, his right to do so should be denied. tion of the retirement of the Senate for con- sultation. The Chief Justice immediately voted in favor of adjournment, declared the session of the court closed, and instantly rose from his seat. This prompt and deter- mined action frustrated the designs of the

He assumed the rigl:t | to rule upon questions of evidence, subject |

Sut the first tie vote came on a ques- |

political cabal and strengthened his position beyond the possibility of successful assault. He deserves great credit for the firmness, calmness and good judgment with which he presided over his trial and for his effort to stamp it with a judicial character.

The Chief Justice considered that his judg- ment in the case of Texas v. White, 7 Wall, 700, was his most important opinion. That was an original suit in the Supreme Court

| of the United States by the State of Texas

to compel the surrender of United States bonds, and for an injunction to restrain the respondents from receiving payment on them from the National Government. The Chief Justice held that when Texas became one of the United States she entered into an indissoluble relation which was final, there was no place for reconsideration or revoca- tion; that she continued to be a State of the Union, notwithstanding the transactions which she had entered into during the Re- bellion ; and that the government established since the end of the war was a State govern- ment de facto under the Federal Constitu- tion, and that therefore she had the right to sue in the Supreme Court of the United States. Upon the merits it wes adjudged that she was entitled to the bonds.

Since the determination of the case of Juilliard v. Greenman, 110 U. S., 421, decided on March 3, 1884, I fancy that there can be few who doubt the constitutional right and power of the government of the United States to issue legal tender paper money. For I believe that the learned and brilliant opinion of Mr. Justice Gray in that case is unanswerable, and has ‘settled the question for all time. But in the stress of the Civil War it was a nice and grave question. At the time the Legal Tender Act was passed Mr. Chase, then Secretary of the Treasury, gave his assent to it and carried out its pro- visions from a belief in its necessity. He had little time to consider the constitutional question, and if he had an opinion, sub- mitted it to the exigencies of circumstances.

Salmon Portland Chase.

165

When, in 1869, as Chief Justice he had to consider it in his judicial capacity in Hepburn v. Griswold, 8 Wall, 603, he came to the decided conclusion that the act was uncon- stitutional. As he said at the close of his opinion in that case: “Many who doubted yielded their doubts; many who did not doubt were silent. Not a few who then ‘insisted upon its necessity, or ac-