Salmon P. Chase

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True democracy makes no enquiry about the color of skin, or the place of nativity, whereever it sees man, it recognizes a being endowed by his Creator with original inalienable rights.

Salmon Portland Chase (January 13, 1808May 7, 1873) was an American politician and jurist in the Civil War era who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and Governor of Ohio; as Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln; and as Chief Justice of the United States.


  • For, what is slavery?  It is the complete and absolute subjection of one person to the control and disposal of another person, by legalized force.  We need not argue that no person can be, rightfully, compelled to submit to such control and disposal.  All such subjection must originate in force; and, private force not being strong enough to accomplish the purpose, public force, in the form of law, must lend its aid.  The Government comes to the help of the individual slaveholder, and punishes resistance to his will, and compels submission.  THE GOVERNMENT, therefore, in the case of every individual slave, is THE REAL ENSLAVER, depriving each person enslaved of all liberty and all property, and all that makes life dear, without imputation of crime or any legal process whatsoever.  This is precisely what the Government of the United States is forbidden to do by the Constitution.  The Government of the United States, therefore, cannot create or continue the relation of master and slave.  Nor can that relation be created or continued in any place, district, or territory, over which the jurisdiction of the National Government is exclusive; for slavery cannot subsist a moment after the support of the public force has been withdrawn.
  • True democracy makes no enquiry about the color of skin, or the place of nativity, whereever it sees man, it recognizes a being endowed by his Creator with original inalienable rights.
    • Address accepting a testimonial of gratitude from the colored people of Cincinnati for the advocacy in the case of Samuel Watson (February 12, 1845).
  • No more slave States; no slave Territories.
    • Platform of the Free Soil National Convention (1848).
  • The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States.
  • The way to resumption is to resume.
  • Congress was right in not limiting, by its reconstruction acts, the right of suffrage to whites; but wrong in the exclusion from suffrage of certain classes of citizens and all unable to take its prescribed retrospective oath, and wrong also in the establishment of despotic military governments for the States and in authorizing military commissions for the trial of civilians in time of peace.  There should have been as little military government as possible; no military commissions; no classes excluded from suffrage; and no oath except one of faithful obedience and support to the Constitution and laws, and of sincere attachment to the constitutional Government of the United States.
    • Letter to August Belmont (May 30, 1868), in J. W. Schuckers, The Life and Public Services of Salmon Portland Chase, (1874). p. 585.

Quotes about Chase[edit]

  • The republic was quite lucky he was unable to defeat his betters and never got near the White House as Chief Executive. Absolutely awful. He was a Free Soiler of the lowest type and a Redeemer at that, his mechanizations against Lincoln and Seward in a perfect would would have seen him ejected from the cabinet and into obscurity well at the start of the Lincoln Administration.
  • Chase was never a perpetual star of the abolitionists but he did always reach out to make himself important to some faction of the War Coalition, be they War Democrats, Abolitionists, or his attempted wooing of what comes close to being a 'Peace Republican' organization. That doesn't mean he wasn't a Putz who often did more harm than good in his job. If we're talking about his work at treasury, he never secured monetary stability over the course of the war and his band aid to fix it would cause decades of economic problems. And then of course there's the fact that he was a repulsive Human being who's view of abolition was closely tied to expulsion, and whom immediately at the end of the war placed himself in the Liberal Republican camp.

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