Samuel Chase

Samuel Chase, Maryland (1741-1811)

Samuel Chase was born in Somerset County, Maryland, 11 April 1741. His parents, Thomas Chase and Matilda Walker had met and married in Somerset County.

Samuel’s paternal Grandfather, also named Samuel Chase, was a freeman and middle-class citizen of London. A brick and tile layer, he owned several houses and parcels of land. Grandfather Samuel had five children: Thomas, Richard, Samuel, Bridget and Mary. Richard, the eldest became an Anglican priest, and Mary, the younger daughter, married an Anglican priest. Both families emigrated to Maryland in the 1730’s. Richard emigrated in 1734 and became a close friend and chaplain of Lord Baltimore.

Samuel Chase had ensured that young Thomas was given a classical education, and Thomas graduated from both Eton and Cambridge. At Eton, he earned honors in both Latin and Hebrew; later, at Cambridge, he studied medicine and earned a Bachelor of Physics degree. He returned to Eton and taught Latin and Hebrew. Apparently tiring of the academic life, he took passage to the West Indies island of St. Thomas to practice medicine. The sparse life on a small island didn’t agree, so he returned to England where he read for the Anglican priesthood. He was ordained in February 1739. Shortly thereafter he emigrated to Somerset County, Maryland, and became Rector of the Somerset Parish.

Thomas quickly met Samuel Chase’s Mother, Matilda Walker. Her Grandfather and Father were prominent merchants and planters in Somerset County. They were patrons of The Church of England, and Matilda most likely was a communicant in Somerset Parish. Thomas and Matilda were married in 1740, and they moved in with her parents, as Thomas’ stipend as a rector could not maintain a separate household. “On 11 April 1741, the Reverend Chase lost his wife and gained a son. Matilda Chase died in childbirth, her husband’s medical training being of no avail. She left a strong little boy named Samuel, to fight his way through an uncompromising world.”(1)

In February 1744, Thomas Chase was appointed by the Governor of Maryland as Rector of St. Paul’s Parish in Baltimore County. Thomas and his young son moved to Baltimore where Thomas established residence in the home of the former Rector and bought his library and clerical vestments. St. Paul’s was a large parish that included the small village of Baltimore Town. Although Rector Chase’s stipend was barely sufficient to support himself and his young son, he tried to keep up with his wealthy communicants and remained in financial difficulty for years, regularly living beyond his means (a trait his young son observed and followed in his own life).

Not much is known about Chase’s early life, other than he and his grand nephew, Jeremiah Chase, became friends and were home-schooled by Rector Chase in Latin, Greek, literature and history.“Though not college trained, the boys received a fair equivalent at home. Samuel and Jeremiah Townley Chase had parallel careers as attorneys, legislators, and judges; their success was testimony to Parson Chase’s effectiveness as a teacher.”(2)

In 1759, at the age of eighteen, Samuel Chase moved to Annapolis, and entered the law offices of Holland and Hall to be trained in the law, and eventually to be admitted to the Bar. In those days, the median cost of having a student admitted to a law office was around £50 sterling, and Samuel must have had assistance from his Father for room and board. His meager resources drove him to accelerate his studies and to explore additional sources of income; however, there are scant references to his success in these endeavors.

During his four years of apprenticeship in the firm of Holland and Hall, Samuel had an active social life in Annapolis, making friends with young men and finally being accepted into one of the social clubs that were the hallmarks of gentlemen. He met William Paca, the son of a wealthy Harford County family. The two forged a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Samuel was gregarious and impetuous, while William was more inclined to stay in the background and influence others through his writings. Later, both would become principals in the Rebellion, both would sign The Declaration of Independence, and William would become Governor of Maryland.

Still not on his own as an attorney, Chase met young Ann (Nancy) Baldwin. They were married on 2 May 1762. “The match was one of love, not convenience, for Samuel’s bride enhanced neither his social standing nor his material prosperity.”(3) Chase and Ann lived on the brink poverty for several years until Samuel was admitted to the Bar and began his practice. Their first child, a daughter, was born 14 February 1763. They had seven children, four of whom lived to adulthood.

John Hall became Chase’s legal mentor, and in his student years, Chase accompanied Hall in his appearances in various County courts throughout Maryland. Chase was admitted to the Bar in March 1763. In his early years of practice, Chase was forced to take cases that other more practiced attorneys shunned, viz., those of debtors, whose defaults constituted the majority of cases before the courts. In taking these cases, Chase built a long-lasting constituency of the ordinary “middling sort” (“middling class”) citizens who later formed his political base. He represented these citizens, either pro bono or with paltry compensations. Often, through trial postponement and stays of execution, he enabled his clients to get back on their feet and to repay what they owed.

The City of Annapolis was created a municipal corporation by a charter in 1708. The corporation was governed by a ten-man Common Council, supposedly elected by the citizen voters, but in reality, was a de facto selfperpetuating “court body” that paid scant attention to the needs of the city. Replacement members of the Council were labeled “Placemen,” and were denounced and derided by “middling sort” voters. They needed a leader to become a major political entity. In October 1764, Chase worked with the constituents of two tradesmen seeking seats on the Council. Chase mobilized the City’s shopkeepers and artisans to vote the two candidates into office.

In November 1764, Chase ran for one of Annapolis’ seats in the Maryland General Assembly lower house. He won a highly-contested, vicious, nasty election. His ability to put together a political force was demonstrated in this election. Chase had mobilized the politically disaffected ,along with his existing constituency, to establish a dominant political entity. “By the end of 1764, Samuel Chase was a locally prominent figure in Annapolis. Popular with one faction and feared by the other, he could not be ignored by anyone.” (4)

Chase’s election to the General Assembly coincided with the British Parliament’s passage of the Stamp Act, which, together with the earlier Sugar Act, constituted the first time the British had attempted to tax the colonies for revenue. Opposition to the Stamp Act spread throughout the Colonies, and even more so into Maryland where Lord Baltimore saw the Stamp Act as a direct violation of the 1632 charter that promised Maryland immunity from taxation by the Crown. Although Lord Baltimore’s government was obligated, de jure, to enforce the law, in actuality they were much less inclined to do so.

Massachusetts citizens found a loophole. The Act could not go into effect without stamped paper; therefore, the tax could not be collected if the stamped paper could not be distributed. They seized upon the idea to convince the appointed distributor to resign, so that no stamped paper could be available. So, in August 1765, the distributor was forced to resign by a sizeable and angry Boston mob. When this news arrived in Maryland, the precedent for action had been established. An Annapolis merchant, Zachariah Hood, had been appointed to distribute the stamped paper throughout Maryland. On 26 August a large crowd gathered in Annapolis and quickly turned into a mob, with Samuel Chase as the ringleader. Largely composed of tradespeople who had supported Samuel Chase’s election the previous November, the mob was dedicated to removing Mr. Hood: “The crowd fashioned an effigy of the stamp distributor, which they paraded throughout the town in a cart while a bell tolled mournfully. Hood’s effigy was then flogged, placed in a pillory, hanged and finally burned. Crowds elsewhere in the province soon staged similar proceedings.”(5)

The mob in Annapolis reassembled on 2 September and tore down the building Hood was going to use as a storehouse for the paper. This episode frightened Hood into fleeing to New York for sanctuary. The Maryland Governor, Horatio Sharpe, arranged for a British warship to keep the stamped paper on board, safe from the Annapolis mobs. Chase and his followers had ensured that no paper could be sold throughout the Colony; therefore, the Stamp Act could not be enforced when it became law.

The Stamp Act went into effect on 1 November. General confusion ensued. Legally, courts could not function without the stamped paper, seaports could not load or unload cargo, and newspapers were shut down. The Colonists ignored the Act, and proceeded with unstamped paper in defiance of the Crown. The Frederick County Court was the first in Maryland to reopen. Chase was present for this event and certainly influenced this decision. Chase immediately resumed his law practice in Frederick County, using unstamped paper.

In other Colonies, the Sons of Liberty had been established to press for the nullification of the Stamp Act. The New York Sons wrote to William Lux, a Baltimore merchant, urging him to set up similar committees in Maryland. Mr. Lux took immediate action to comply.“Soon the Sons of Liberty were being organized in the Baltimore and Annapolis areas . . .. The Reverend Thomas Chase was a member of the Sons’ Committee in Baltimore Town; in Annapolis the organizers were Samuel Chase and William Paca.”(6) The Sons of Liberty forswore violence, preferring to exert as much political and economic pressure as possible on the British. Along with others, they succeeded. In March 1766, the Stamp Act was repealed.

In Maryland, his resistance to the Stamp Act had made Chase a prominent political figure throughout the Colony. His successes reinforced the new awareness that ordinary men were capable of assuming active roles in politics, thus beginning Chase’s goals of either reducing or neutralizing the Court Party’s domination of the General Assembly and ensuring men of the “middling sort” would become the dominant force in Maryland politics. Chase remained a member of the General Assembly until 1784.

From 1767 through 1773, Chase was taken up with Maryland politics. He became known as a “carthorse.” At one time, he was on twenty one committees engaged in legislation affecting his “middling class” constituents and other activities reflecting Maryland’s growing disaffection with the British Parliament.

Chase and Paca walked a fine line between their mandated loyalty to the Crown and their increasing frustration, both with Parliament and with their British overseers. New anti-British factions arose, challenging the coalition that Chase and Paca had put together, and a radical insurgency movement grew in the Assembly. Although the Tea Act promoted major resistance in the Northern Colonies, Maryland had remained aloof. Responding to pleas from other Colonies, Maryland formed a Committee of Correspondence in October 1773, of which Samuel Chase was appointed as a member; however, the Committee was dormant for almost a year.

In May 1774, the British passed the first of what were to become known as “The Intolerable Acts.” The Boston Port Act closed the Boston port until the Crown had been compensated for the tea that was destroyed in the Boston Tea Party. “Everywhere in America, the Act rallied public sentiment to the support of Boston, which was seen suffering in the common cause of colonial freedom.”(7) As soon as the news of the British Parliament’s action reached Annapolis, Chase convened a public meeting on 25 May that called for a boycott on all imports and exports to Britain until the Act was repealed. Chase and Paca, along with the leaders of opposing political factions, were appointed to yet another Committee of Correspondence to persuade the other Colonies to unite behind the proposed boycott. Within Maryland, the response was nearly unanimous, and on 25 June, a provincial convention endorsed not only a complete boycott, but also a call for a Continental Congress to examine the Colonies’ relationships with Britain.“Their stand put Maryland, for the moment, in the vanguard of American resistance. The call for a Congress was general and spontaneous across the thirteen colonies, but few other colonies so forthrightly advocated a complete cessation of trade . . .”(8)

For the first time, this call to resistance placed Samuel Chase, squarely in opposition to the Crown. Clearly, in the eyes of his British overseers, it could be only be construed as open sedition. Samuel Chase never turned back.

The provincial convention elected Chase, along with Paca and others, to represent Maryland at the First Continental Congress. Chase arrived in Philadelphia on September 3, and immediately began to make friends with representatives from the other Colonies. One of the first was John Adams, who became Chase’s lifelong friend.

The Convention was bitterly divided. One faction, led by Virginia and Massachusetts, demanded total independence from Parliament, plus a complete boycott of both imports and exports. The other faction, led by New York, wanted it both ways, viz., recognition of colonial rights and reconciliation with Parliament. All agreed that an armed rebellion was “out of the Question.” The delegates reached a compromise, calling for an import boycott in December 1774 and an export boycott in September 1775 in case Parliament remained obstinate on the issues of taxation and laws designed to affect Colonial trade. The Congress adjourned, having compromised on the issue of independence, and resolved to meet in May 1775. Chase was firmly against any delay in the boycott of exports. His work at the Congress centered on British laws that either controlled or affected trade and manufacturing throughout the Colonies; however, he refused to align himself with either the radical or the conservative factions.

Chase and the other delegates returned home to find Maryland in a state of political chaos that erupted over the burning of the Peggy Stewart in the Annapolis harbor. A provincial convention met in December 1774 to restore order and to prepare for armed conflict with the British. Chase used this opportunity to expand his political clout and to put down Tory resistance to the informal association of colonies. Soon, Chase was the leading political force in Maryland.

In early 1775, the quarrel with Parliament had worsened. Chase was determined to resist continuing British violations of Colonial Rights by all means, including armed resistance. He believed that the British: “must either give up the Right of Taxation, or force obedience by the Sword.”(9) In a 5 February 1775 letter to James Duane, a New York delegate to the Congress, Samuel Chase wrote:

“When I reflect on the enormous Influence of the Crown, the System of Corruption introduced as the Art of Government, the Venality of the Electors (the radical Source of every other Evil), the open and repeated violations, by Parliament of the Constitution . . I have not the least Dawn of Hope in the Justice, Humanity, Wisdom or Virtue of the British Nation. I consider them as one of the most abandoned and wicked People under the Sun . . . . Our Dependence must be on God and ourselves.”(10)

Chase’s apprehensions came true in April 1775 at Lexington and Concord. Convinced that Maryland could no longer exist under its appointed Proprietary government, Chase called for transfer of power from the existing regime to the Provincial Convention. Although the Tories and the Proprietary establishment resisted, the reins of Maryland’s government passed, de facto, to the revolutionary authorities without a struggle.

Chase returned to the Second Continental Congress, where Chase, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Charles’ cousin, Charles (a Roman Catholic priest) were appointed as a commission to go to Quebec to convince the Canadians to join the Colonies in a Free America association. The Commission left Philadelphia on March 26, “full of optimism.” Over the following months, the Commissioners determined that persuading the Canadians to join was not possible. They left Canada in late May and returned to Philadelphia on June 11. During this period, American military forces had begun military operations in Canada that finally failed due to Congress’ lack of funding and to poor generalship. Even before leaving Canada, Chase’s position on rebellion had changed. He now believed open resurrection was inevitable. On April 28, he wrote to John Adams to press for the Congress’ full attention to the war effort:

“Do not spend your precious Time on Debates about our Independency. In my Judgement You have no alternative between Independency and Slavery, and what American can hesitate in the Choice, but don’t harangue about it, act as if it were [independent]. Make every preparation for War, take all prudent Measures to procure Success for our Arms, and the Consequence is obvious.”(11)

During Chase’s absence in Canada, the debate over independence from Britain boiled over. The Second Continental Congress was divided, with six of the thirteen Colonies on the fence, viz., New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and South Carolina. On June 7, Virginia’s Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution that the Colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States” (12) and that the Congress should consider a Confederation and seek foreign alliances. When Chase returned to Philadelphia on June 11, he was told that earlier,on May 15, Maryland’s provincial convention had ordered its delegation to work for reconciliation – – and to oppose independence from Britan. The delegates’ hands were tied.

Immediately, Chase returned to Annapolis from Philadelphia. Between the middle of June to the end of the month, Chase and Charles Carroll visited the counties throughout the province, inflaming and rousing the “middling sort” and other supporters to action. On June 28, faced with a horde of citizens clamoring for independence from British rule, the provincial convention in Annapolis unanimously authorized its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence.

In the two following days, Samuel Chase rode the 150 miles between Annapolis and Philadelphia to bring the news of this new authority to the Maryland delegation. On the morning of July 1, he relayed the authorization of the provincial convention to Maryland’s delegates. Now, they were able to vote for independence.

Chase returned to Annapolis because his wife was seriously ill. He was not present in Philadelphia when the vote for Independence was cast on July 2, nor for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4. Several earlier accounts state that Chase remained in Philadelphia to cast his vote for independence. Others affirm he was not present, and that he had returned to Annapolis to be with his sick wife.

Samuel Chase’s wife, Ann, died somewhere between 1776 and 1779 (primary sources disagree); he was left to raise his four children alone.

Samuel Chase returned to Philadelphia on July 17. On August 2, along with other members of the Congress, Samuel Chase affixed his signature to The Declaration of Independence. His signature, rather small, is just below that of John Hancock’s. Legend has it that, as he signed the Declaration, Samuel Chase commented that if the King could read John Hancock’s signature, then the King also could read his.

During the war, Chase became involved with the problems of provisioning the troops, especially those from Maryland. He injected himself into sensitive issues concerning the selection and promotion of the senior officers leading the Army, including the selection of George Washington to command the Continental Army. His support of Schuyler, Gates and Washington and his observations concerning the war and its leaders are documented in primary source letters.

For several years following his signing of the Declaration, Chase spent most of his time on his law practice and helping write Maryland’s Constitution as well as the new nation’s Articles of Confederation. He began accepting students into his law office, including William Pickney who later became Attorney General of the United States.

During the creation of the Articles of Confederation, Chase was involved with several provisions: Of these, the original colonial grants of the “landed” States beyond the Appalachian mountain range were the most important to him. Certain states, such as Virginia and South Carolina had parallel Northern and Southern borders reaching across the continent, all the way to the “South Sea,” i.e., the Pacific Ocean. As early as April 1776, Chase had recommended the Continental Congress appropriate these lands to help pay for the existing war effort. Now, Chase wanted the newly formed national government to have ownership and to control the lands beyond the Appalachians so that they could be used to increase revenue. Chase was overruled, and the “landed” States retained their colonial boundaries.

Prior to the Revolution, Maryland’s proprietary government had purchased stock in the Bank of England, using funds the government had obtained in taxes. Now, the face value of Maryland’s stock in the Bank stood at around £43,000 sterling; however, since the stock was being traded at a premium, the actual value, with accrued interest, stood at around £120,000 sterling. In April 1783, Maryland’s legislature authorized appointment of a state agent who was to request the London trustees to sell the stock and to transfer the proceeds and accumulated dividends to the State’s agent. All proceeds would be used to reduce Maryland’s outstanding war debts.

William Paca, now Governor of Maryland, selected Samuel Chase to be the State’s agent .Chase sailed for England in August 1783. Chase contacted the Maryland trustees, all London merchants with long-standing relationships with Maryland’s former proprietary government. The trustees refused to comply. After months of wrangling over ownership, the Court of Chancery took action in June 1784 to have the stock and accrued dividends transferred to the Court’s accountant general pending a political solution of the ownership. Chase sailed for Maryland on August 1784 without having accomplished his mission.

The issue was settled in 1804 when Maryland received around £140,000 sterling from the sale. Samuel Chase received £6,500 from Maryland as commission for his efforts; however, the Maryland Legislature refused to compensate Chase for expenses he had incurred while in England. Finally, he filed a lawsuit against Maryland that was settled in December 1810, six months before his death.

During his year in England, Samuel Chase met Hannah Kitty Giles, the daughter of Dr. Samuel Giles, a physician of Kentbury. It must have been a storybook romance, as Samuel and Kitty were married on 3 March 1784.“The bride was twenty five, a woman of good family, sound education, and a forceful personality.”(13). Ultimately, they had two daughters, Eliza and Mary.

From 1784 to 1786, Samuel Chase practiced law while still active in politics. His law practiced increased, giving him a barely adequate income. With a growing family, his resources were marginal; furthermore, he continually lived beyond his means. Following the lead of many of his colleagues, Chase had speculated in land and properties. Unfortunately, many of his attempts turned sour, including a scheme to corner the market in wheat. Chase went deeper into debt.

In 1786, Chase became convinced he could make more money in Baltimore, now a growing city that had surpassed Annapolis in population, port size and trade. With a large family to support, and in debt, Chase believed a move to Baltimore was necessary. In February of 1786, Col. John Howard, one of Baltimore’s leading entrepreneurs and developers, offered Samuel Chase “one square of ten lots of land” near the center of the city. Col. Howard’s offer to Chase was not altruistic, as he believed Chase had sufficient political influence to help Baltimore promoters engineer the move of Maryland’s capital from Annapolis to Baltimore. Additionally, Howard offered Chase: “another square of ten lots . . . if the seat of government should be removed [to Baltimore], and the public buildings shall be erected on my land.”(14) Chase moved to Baltimore where he built a large brick townhouse on the corner of Lexington and Eutaw Streets. Chase’s move back to Baltimore proved to be both a blessing for his family and troublesome for his legislative career.

During the period prior to the Constitutional Convention, political parties in the various States polarized into Federalists, who believed in a strong central government for the States, and Antifederalists who believed strongly in the rights of States to run their own affairs and to make their own laws affecting taxation, manufacturing, agriculture and commerce. Samuel Chase ‘s personal and political background placed him squarely in the Antifederalist camp. Of concern to Chase and to his political career was that both Baltimore and Maryland’s General Assembly were being taken over by the Federalists.

Chase had no part in drafting the new United States Constitution. Although the Maryland legislature had nominated him to attend, Chase turned down the appointment, along with Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Chase’s lifelong friend, William Paca. When Chase was able to read the proposed Constitution, his opinion

“was negative from the start. In Chase’s view: “. . . the convention had exceeded its authority by proposing an entirely new government to replace the Confederation. That new government, national rather than truly federal in principle, virtually unlimited in its powers, must inevitably swallow up the hitherto sovereign states.”(15).

Samuel Chase’s two principal disagreements with the new Constitution concerned the rights of the various States and the rights of citizens. For the States, Chase believed the new government’s power to tax and to regulate commerce would cut into and eviscerate the capability of the States to raise revenues through their own ability to tax and control intrastate commerce . More important, Chase saw no provisions in the Constitution to protect the rights of ordinary citizens against the power of the new federal government. To Chase, this was akin to British rule all over again.

Maryland’s Constitutional convention was scheduled to meet in April 1788, and both Chase and Paca were among the twelve Antifederalists appointed to the convention. The convention assembled on 21 April 1788. Both Chase and Paca presented their views for modifications and amendments to the document; however, on Saturday morning, 26 April, the convention ratified the Constitution. The results were not even close – – sixty three to eleven. The Antifederalist had lost.

Chase continued to call for amendments to the Constitution, but to no avail. Chase ran again for the General Assembly; however, by this time, Baltimore was staunchly Federalist. “His Federalist opponents replied that sending Chase to the legislature to put the Constitution into effect would be entrusting one’s house keys to a burglar.”(16) Chase was defeated.

“The year 1788 ended one major phase of Samuel Chase’s life; never again would he hold legislative office. Bankrupt and out of power, Chase set about picking up the pieces of a shattered career and providing financial security for his family.”(17)

Gradually, Samuel Chase’s political beliefs changed from Antifederalist to Federalist. Principal elements in this conversion were the election of his friend, George Washington, to the Presidency, the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1789 and the impact of the French Revolution on the United States. Chase still believed that the Constitution failed to provide a check on the powers of the executive and the legislature, as the Bill of Rights had little direct effect on the national government; however, for Chase, the Bill of Rights: “. . . did safeguard personal and civil liberty and the traditional guarantees of fair legal process . . .”(18)

In September 1789, Samuel Chase wrote to George Washington, asking for an appointment to the Supreme Court. His request was not granted, as Washington already had his slate of candidates; further, Chase still bore the Antifederalist stigma in the eyes of both Washington and the Congress.

Chase’s rehabilitation (in the eyes of the Federalists) began in August 1791, when Maryland’s Governor Howard appointed him as Chief Judge of the new Maryland General Court. Then, in December 1791 Samuel Chase accepted a second (concurrent) appointment as the Chief Justice of the newly-created Baltimore County Court of Oyer and Terminer. Combined, these two appointments gave Chase a decent income; however, a clear conflict of interest was created, as an appeal from the Baltimore court (under Chief Justice Chase) would go to Maryland’s General Court (under Chief Judge Chase) for adjudication.

The French Revolution was in full force, the Reign of Terror had started, and French Revolutionary atheistic doctrines had spread to the United States and had penetrated Baltimore. Chase viewed this intrusion not only as a threat to established government, but also to religion. As a devout Anglican, he was appalled.

In 1793, France and England were at war. Although George Washington had declared the United States as being neutral, the British soon began seizing American ships trading in the French West Indies, and the French were seizing American ships either bound to or coming from England. In reaction, Congress shut down the Nation’s ports with a two-month embargo on foreign trade. Baltimore, with many idle ships in its port, became a scene of unrest and violence. Chase’s Baltimore County Court of Oyer and Terminer became a chief player in suppressing mob violence and restoring order to the city, and Chase’s approval increased with the Federalists. It was his service on the Baltimore court that completed Chase’s conversion to the Federalist cause.

Beginning in 1792, James McHenry had become a chief advisor to President Washington for national political appointments within Maryland and to identify individuals to fill national offices in the Capital. McHenry was favorably impressed with Samuel Chase’s “defense of order” in Baltimore and his conversion to the Federalist opinions. In mid 1795, McHenry wrote to Washington and recommended Chase for appointment to the next Supreme Court vacancy. McHenry wrote:

“Among the inducements I feel for presenting his name is his general conduct since the adoption of our government and a sense I entertain of the past he bore in the revolutionary efforts of a long and trying crisis. You know that his services and abilities were of much use to the cause . . . sometimes by the measures he proposed or had influence to get adopted, and sometimes by the steady opposition he gave to the intrigues raised against yourself. (He possesses) professional knowledge plus a very valuable stock of political science and information.”(19)

The President waited for over seven months to answer McHenry, When he did, on 20 January 1796, he asked McHenry to advise Chase that he was ready to nominate Chase for the Supreme Court. In the same letter, Washington asked McHenry to become his Secretary of War. Both men accepted Washington’s proffers, and in his reply to Washington, advising him that Chase had accepted, McHenry wrote: “You have made an old veteran very proud and happy.”(20) The Senate confirmed Samuel Chase’s nomination to the Supreme Court; however, many Federalists were not pleased with the appointment. Chase’s Antifederalist past, his refusal to attend the Constitutional Convention and his attempt to prevent Maryland from ratifying the Constitution still rankled them.

At the time Samuel Chase entered the Supreme Court, both the Congress and the Court were unsure of the Judiciary’s mandate and its place among the three branches of government. The role of the Judiciary as an equal and separate branch of the new government was at stake: “The justices of the formative decade before 1800 therefore played a very important role in giving life to the Constitution. None made a greater contribution to the work of the high court than Samuel Chase.”(21)

In 1796, Samuel Chase’s first Supreme Court session resulted in an opinion that has stood the test of time. In Ware v. Hylton, the issue was whether a state law could override the provisions of a national treaty. Chase argued that since the Treaty of Paris had been ratified, the provisions within the Treaty became, de jure, the supreme law of the land. Chase wrote that a treaty could not be the supreme law of the land if a State legislature could override its provisions, thereby declaring the treaty provisions null and void. Since the Treaty of Paris had been ratified, its provisions could not be challenged. Chase’s opinion on the supremacy of national treaties over state laws remains valid.

In the 1779 Court session, Samuel Chase wrote an opinion in Calder v.Bull that defined ex post facto laws under the Constitution. This definition has lasted, and is the one accepted today.

Samuel Chase’s thoughts on the supremacy of the Judiciary to declare a law as unconstitutional began to coalesce. In 1800, this role of the Supreme Court was in question, and Chase put fuel on the fire by beginning to espouse these thoughts. He stated his point in one of two circuit court cases where the authority of the Judiciary was an issue:

“The Judicial power . . . are the only proper and competent authority to decide whether any law made by Congress or any of the State Legislatures, is contrary to or in violation of the federal Constitution.”(22)

Over time, Samuel Chase also became a strict constructionist, and in United States v. Worrall, he concluded that since all powers of the national government are derived from the Constitution:

“ . . . the departments of the government can never assume any power, that is not granted by that instrument, nor exercise a power in any other manner than is there prescribed.”(23)

In Worrall, Samuel Chase established both a precursor and precedent for the Court’s later decision in Marbury vs. Madison.

Samuel Chase’s reputation as an influential Justice on the early Court is premised on the opinions he wrote in the 1796-1800 years. When John Marshall became the Çhief Justice, Chase’s influence diminished within the Court, although he became a trusted advisor to Marshall for the remainder of his years.

Even today, Samuel Chase’s influence on the Supreme Court is apparent. One of Chase’s opinions was the lead reference cited by Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her strongly-worded dissent in a 2005 Eminent Domain case. The Court had ruled that localities could seize private property to promote economic stimulus. O’Connor wrote that the ruling favored the most powerful and influential in society and left small property owners little recourse:

“. . . the specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”(33)

Samuel Chase would have agreed!

During the French Revolution, a new political entity emerged in the United States. Known derisively as “The French Party,” the Republicans quickly became a thorn in the side of the Federalists, and the Republicans’ loyalty to the nation actually became suspect . To counter this perceived threat, a Federalist Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Sedition Act was passed to suppress the vicious and licentious press and private broadsides that carried the Republicans’ invectives: “Virtually all Federalists agreed by 1798 that the Republican newspapers intemperate attacks on the administration had to be stopped to ensure survival of republican order, which they identified with continued Federalist control of the government.”(24) (author’s note: So Much For The First Amendment!)

Samuel Chase became an ardent party in presiding on grand jury sessions and circuit court trials under the Sedition Act. To say the least, he was intemperate, caustic, opinionated, and certainly was not even-handed. Chase was on the bench for two famous grand jury and circuit court trials, for Fries and Callender, where his conduct in both was used to frame the Articles of Impeachment that were later drawn against him in the House. James Thompson Callender was a well-known and prominent Republican radical, and one of the most scurrilous political broadside and pamphlet writers in the country. The Federalists chose to bring him to trial for openly advocating the overthrow of the Adams presidency. The trials of Fries for Rebellion, and of Callender for Sedition, are well documented.

Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams, and was to take office in March 1801. Now as the President-Elect, and titular head of the Republican party, he indicated he would make every effort to appoint Republican judges to replace Federalist ones as quickly as possible. The Federalist “lame duck” Congress then worked to pass the Judiciary Act of 1801 that provided for six new circuit courts and sixteen new circuit judges – – all of whom were appointed by the lame-duck President, John Adams, on the night before he was to leave office.

The Republicans were embittered by this end run, and in February 1802 the Judiciary Act was repealed. The “Midnight Judges” were turned out; however, the Republicans were then faced with all of the remaining Supreme Court Justices and circuit judges being of the Federalist persuasion.

In the long run, Jefferson planned to replace retiring and deceased judges with Republicans; however, to find an opening on the Supreme Court, he was convinced that only Impeachment proceedings and conviction against a Justice would permit him to bring some modicum of change to John Marshall’s Court. Jefferson picked his target, Samuel Chase who earned Jefferson’s dislike and anger. He was a Federalist and a constructionist, and Chase had actively campaigned for John Adams. In doing so, Chase’s absence had resulted in delays and continuations of the Court’s business.

Jefferson sought an excuse to have Samuel Chase impeached, and in time, Chase provided Jefferson with the excuse he needed. In May 1803 Chase implored a Baltimore Grand Jury not to defend a Maryland law that granted universal male suffrage to its citizens. Chase believed property ownership was a mandatory prerequisite to vote in either state or national elections. Further, Chase still was incensed by the Republican repeal of the Judiciary Act, and he blended these two dislikes into his instructions to the Grand Jury:

“The late alteration of the federal Judiciary . . . and the recent change in our state constitution, by the establishment of universal suffrage . . . will . . . take away all security for personal property and liberty, and our Republican constitution will sink into a mobocracy, the worst of all popular governments.”(25)

On May 13, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Joseph H. Nicholson, Maryland’s Republican member of the House, obliquely suggesting impeachment of Chase, based on Chase’s Baltimore Grand Jury outburst.

“You must have heard of the extraordinary charge of Chase to the Grand Jury at Baltimore. Ought this seditious and official attack on the principals of our Constitution, and on the proceedings of a State, go unpunished? And to whom so pointedly as yourself will the public look for the necessary measures? I ask these questions for your consideration, for myself it is better that I should not interfere?” (26)

Nicholson demurred, believing Chase’s conduct, although reprehensible, did not qualify for the Constitutional requirement for impeachment and removal from office. As a result, nothing was done for the remainder of 1803.

In January 1804, Jefferson probably asked a fellow Virginian, John Randolph, a member of the House, to begin Impeachment proceedings against Chase. Randolph moved to establish a Committee of Inquiry to investigate Chase’s conduct. The Committee’s investigation took two months and resulted in a report recommending impeachment. The House agreed, and eight Articles of Impeachment were drawn up based upon Chase’s conduct in the Fries and Callender trials. The Articles were presented to the House for approval; however Congress adjourned without charging Chase, and the process was delayed until Congress met in November.

During this recess, Chase assembled his defense team, and having obtained Randolph’s drafts of the Articles, they were able to map out a substantial defense. Chase had asked Alexander Hamilton to be one of his lead attorneys; however, Hamilton was killed in the duel with Aaron Burr before he could respond. Ironicaally, Burr, as Vice President, would preside over Samuel Chase’s trial in the Senate.

The House presented the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate on December 7, 1804, and Chase was ordered to appear before the Senate on 2 January 1805. Chase requested a delay in the trial based on his ill health and family issues, but his motion was rejected. The trial began on February 4 with a reading of the formal indictments with Vice President Aaron Burr presiding. The prosecution was spotty and disorganized, as many of the House’s attorneys lacked sufficient legal experience for the task. After eight days of testimony, the prosecution rested its case on February 15, and Chase’s counselors began his defense.

Samuel Chase’s defense lasted six days, from February 15 through February 20:

“ . . . more than fifty witnesses had been called. By that time the defense had virtually demolished some of the articles and cast considerable doubt on the others. It was also evident that Randolph, who had some legal training but had never practiced law, was no match for the expertise of Chase’s counsel.”(27)

On March 1, Chase was acquitted on all counts. Although a majority of the Senate had voted against him on three of the eight counts, these votes lacked the two thirds required to convict. The remaining five counts were dismissed with significant votes for acquittal. One possible influence on the votes centered on James Callender – – no longer a Republican favorite, and now both condemned and despised by the Republicans as a scoundrel and as a turncoat. Any vote to convict Chase would be construed as continued and open Republican support of Callender, a convicted salacious scandalmonger. Even Jefferson privately admitted that Chase should be acquitted. Jefferson’s change of heart and the extensive details and analyses of Chase’s Impeachment and Senate trial have been documented and assessed in many primary many sources. One recent and relevant assessment was written by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.(28)

Chastened, ill, crippled, in debt, and disgraced in the eyes of the ascending Republicans, Samuel Chase returned to the Court where he sank into relative obscurity, but he continued to assist and advise John Marshall in the major cases before the Court. Due to illness and infirmity, he missed the Court sessions in 1807 and 1811.

Samuel Chase died on 19 June 1811, while still an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

It is not easy to describe Samuel Chase. In many ways, he was a paradox. On the surface, he was coarse, rough, domineering, caustic, overbearing, aggressive, gregarious, overwhelming in both stature and voice, and he lacked good table manners. Late in life, he was crippled by both arthritis and the gout. He was florid, and either excitement or anger would bring a strong flush to his face, earning him the nickname of “Old Bacon Face.” Despite these characteristics, Chase could enter a room and immediately become the center of attention. Well over six feet in height and weighing around two hundred forty pounds, Samuel Chase was hard to overlook.

Inside this rough exterior was a brilliant legal mind, a wicked sense of humor, a genuine love for his family, a never-ending continuity in his friendships,an enduring respect for the Constitution, a devout believer in the Almighty, and an uncanny ability to separate politics from the other elements in his life.

One anonymous newspaper writer penned this description of Chase:

“A face full, florid, and, by the multitude, denominated handsome – a countenance bold, assuming and oppressive – – An eye which affects to scrutinize the innermost recesses of the soul, but, when met with assurance, is cast down, or averted – – Stature towering, nevertheless, imposing awe – – The whole exterior expressive of ardent passion, and of a mind in which there is much to dazzle, much to be deplored, something to be despised, and not a little to be respected.”(29)

Samuel Chase’s family life was turbulent. His second wife, Kitty, was only four years older than Chase’s oldest daughter, and it’s possible she never was completely accepted by his older children. Kitty was strong-willed, often imperious, and she ran the household with an iron hand. The stepmother onus apparently never vanished.

Despite the tension between Chase’s older children and their stepmother, Chase’s life was settling down. In 1808, he watched his son, Samuel, appear as an attorney before the Supreme Court. Later, in September of that year, Kitty’s younger daughter, Mary, eloped to Philadelphia with William Bedford Barney, the elder son of Commodore Joshua Barney, a Revolutionary War naval hero. William Barney was socially prominent in Baltimore, as was Mary, a celebrated belle of Baltimore, “. . . her eye sparkling with intelligence, and her conversation full of wit and sense, envied by her own sex, and feared and admired by the other.”(30) The Chases were more than satisfied – – both with the marriage, and with another generation of grandchildren who began to appear.

In his advancing age, Samuel Chase lost neither his gruff exterior nor his wit. Judge Joseph Story wrote about a lengthy visit with Chase in 1807:

“. . . a rough, but very sensible man . . . I suspect he is the American Thurlow— bold, impetuous, overbearing, and decisive. I am satisfied that the elements of his mind are of the very first excellence; age and infirmity have in some degree impaired them. His manners are coarse, and in appearance harsh; but in reality he abounds with good humor. He loves to croak and grumble, and in the very same breath he amuses you extremely by his anecdotes and pleasantry. His first approach is formidable, but all difficulty vanishes when you once understand him. In person, in manners, in unwieldy strength, in severity of reproof, in real tenderness of heart, and above all in intellect, he is the living, I had almost said the exact, image of Samuel Johnson. To use a provincial expression, I like him hugely.”(31)

In 1820, nine years after Chase’s death, John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary:

“I considered Mr. Chase as one of the men whose life, conduct, and opinions had been one of the most extensive influences upon the Constitution of this country. He not only signed the Declaration of Independence, but was an active and distinguished member of the Congress during and early and most critical period of the Revolution. He was a man of ardent passions, of strong mind, of domineering temper. His life was consequently turbulent and boisterous. He had, for some years, almost uncontrolled domination over the politics of the State of Maryland; at times was unpopular in the extreme, and was more than once impeached.” (32)

By early 1811, Samuel Chase’s health prevented him from horseback riding, so he substituted a daily carriage ride through the streets of Baltimore and the surrounding country. Knowing that his days were numbered, he sent for the Reverend Joseph G. J. Bend, the Rector of St. Paul’s, and received the Holy Eucharist. Then, on June 19 after returning exhausted from his carriage ride, he knew that the end was near. His physicians and his Rector were called to his bedside, and, at eleven p.m., he passed away, so quietly that his family members were scarcely aware that he had died. His physicians listed his death as “ossification of the heart.”

Samuel Chase was given a simple funeral at St. Paul’s Church where his Father had been Rector, and where he had worshipped since returning to Baltimore. Following the service, Chase was buried in St. Paul’s Church cemetery. As he had wished, only his name and the dates of birth and death were to be inscribed on his initial tombstone.

Samuel Chase was reinterred in a common grave with his Father. Later, his wife, Kitty was interred in the grave with both Thomas and Samuel. A new tombstone was erected on the gravesite that is inscribed with all three names (Thomas, Samuel and Kitty). The REVd.Thomas Chase is noted as “The First Pastor of St. Paul’s Parish.” Samuel Chase is described as “Signer of the Declaration of Independence” and “Judge of the U.S. Supreme Court,” while Hannah Kitty Chase is noted as “Wife of Samuel Chase.” A crack runs through the tombstone from corner to corner that would be almost impossible to repair; however, all names and dates are clearly legible.

One element in his younger life no longer exists. Before and during the Revolution, the Sons of Liberty often met under the new “Liberty Tree” on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis. This “Liberty Tree” lasted until the beginning of the twenty first century, when age and disease finally required its removal. One piece of this tree is the gavel used by the President of the DSDI to call the annual meetings to order.

Of the many portraits of Samuel Chase in existence, two are significant. One is the life-sized oil that hangs in the Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, along with the portraits of the three other Maryland Signers of The Declaration of Independence – – William Paca, Charles Carroll of Carrollton and Thomas Stone. The other is a portrait, by Peale, that hangs in the Second United States Bank in Philadelphia, along with portraits of the other six members of the Continental Congress who selected George Washington to command the Continental Army.

Chase’s acquittal in 1805 of the Impeachment charges filed against him firmly established the Constitutional separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. Had Samuel Chase been convicted, the future of the Judiciary as a separate and equal branch of our government would have been in danger. Just before his Impeachment trial began, he wrote:

“Can a sound republic survive, should the time ever arrive, which God avert! when a majority of congress, inflamed by party spirit, and seeking the destruction of its opponents, shall desire to crimiate a judge, in order to heap odium on the party which he is connected. and when a president at the head of his majority shall desire, from motives of prior resentment, the ruin of any judge, when the schemes of the dominant party, or of its leader, may require the removal of all firm, upright and independent judges, and the substitution of others more complying or more timid.” (34)

In Samuel Chase’s early life, he was Maryland’s Incendiary Firebrand of the Revolution. Signing the Declaration of Independence, like the others, he literally put his life on the line. In his later life, as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Chase championed the causes of ordinary citizens; further, his opinions helped establish the principle that the Supreme Court has the final decision on whether laws passed by Federal or State governments meet the requirements of the Constitution.

Throughout his adult life, Samuel Chase was a passionate defender of the rights of the ordinary citizen. Beginning in Annapolis in 1764, and ending on the Supreme Court, he never lost sight of this belief.

Our Nation owes Samuel Chase gratitude for the basic liberties he fought to ensure.

George Hamilton Combs Berger
Colonel, USAF (Retired)
DSDI Life Member 1419

Notes

  1. Haw, James, Beirne Francis F. and Rosamond R., and R. Samuel Jett Stormy Patriot: the Life of Samuel Chase Baltimore, Maryland Historical Society, 1980, pg. 3
  2. Ibid., pg. 7
  3. Ibid., pg. 12
  4. Ibid., pg. 16
  5. Ibid., pg. 18
  6. Ibid., pg. 20
  7. Ibid., pg. 42
  8. Ibid., pg. 43
  9. Ibid., pg. 49
  10. Letter, Chase to Duane, February 5, 1775. IN: Archives of Maryland, LMCC I, 304-306 (See: Haw et al., op. cit., pg. 260)
  11. Letter, Chase to Adams, April 28, 1776. IN: Letters of Delegates, III, pg. 597 Edited by Smith. (See: Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 262)
  12. Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 66
  13. Ibid., pg. 127
  14. Ibid., pg. 145
  15. Ibid., pg. 145
  16. Ibid., pg. 155
  17. Ibid., pg. 156
  18. Ibid., pg. 165
  19. Letter, McHenry to Washington, June 14, 1795. IN: Warren Supreme Court I, pgs. 125-126, as cited IN: Steiner Life of McHenry, pg. 277 (See: Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 176)
  20. Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 176
  21. Ibid., pg. 177
  22. Ibid., pg. 189
  23. Ibid., pg. 190
  24. Ibid., pg. 194
  25. Rehnquist, William H. Grand Inquests: the Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson New York, Morrow, 1992., p. 50
  26. Letter, Jefferson to Joseph H. Nicholson, May 15, 1803. IN: Schacher, Nathan Thomas Jefferson, A Bibliography, Vol. II, pg. 778 (See: Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 281)
  27. Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 229.
  28. Rehnquist, op. cit.
  29. Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 158.
  30. Ibid., pg. 246
  31. Story, quoted IN Strawser: Early Life, 10, and Warren: Supreme Court I, pg. 465 (See: Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 284)
  32. Diary of John Quincy Adams, December 18, 1820, Editor: Nevins, pg. 247 (See: Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 284)
  33. Kelo v. City of New London, 545 US 469 (2005)
  34. Elsmere, Impeachment Trial, pg. 73: Coblentz, Judicial Career, 111: Chase, unpresented memorial IN: Letter to Federal Gazette, March 29, 1804 IN: Report of Trial of Chase, pgs. 5-7. (See: Haw et. al., op. cit., pg. 281)

Sources

  • Barthelmas, Della Gray The Signers of the Declaration of Independence: A Biographical and Genealogical Reference Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland and Co., Inc., 1997 334 pgs. See pgs. 43-46
  • Bradford, M. E. The Restless Incendiary: Samuel Chase of Maryland New Hampshire, Marlborough, The Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1991 18 pgs. ISBN 0-942516-09-8
  • Broussard, James H. (University of Delaware Reviewer) Stormy Patriot: the Life of Samuel Chase, by James Haw, et. al, IN The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., Vol. 40, No. 1, January 1983 See pgs. 162-164
  • Ellis. Richard E. The Jeffersonian Crisis: Courts and Politics In the New Republic New York, Oxford University Press, 1971. Reprinted by W.W. Norton Company, Inc., New York, 1974. 376 pgs. See pgs. 69-107. ISBN 0-393-00729-4
  • Fowler, William M., Jr. Impeachment Clues From the Past Boston, The Boston Globe Newspaper, 31 January 1999, pg. CO7 (An Op-Ed Column)
  • Frandin, Dennis Brindell The Signers: the 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence New York, Walker Publishing Company, Inc., 2002 164 pgs. See pgs. 102-103 ISBN 0-8027-8849-1 and ISBN 0-8027-8850-5
  • Goodrich, Charles A., Rev. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence Hartford, R. G. H. Huntington, 1841 479 pgs. Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, LLC, Whitefish, Montana, P.O.Box 1407, 2007 See pgs. 338-351 ISBN 0-548-6428-50.
  • Haw, James, Francis F. and Rosamond R. Beirne, and R. Samuel Jett. Stormy Patriot: the Life of Samuel Chase Baltimore, Maryland Historical Society, 1980 308 pgs. ISBN 0-73420-003
  • Lossing, B. J. Sketches of the Signers of the Declaration of American Independence: the Declaration Historically Considered; and a Sketch of the Leading Events Connected With the Adoption of the Articles of Confederation and of the Federal Constitution New York, George F. Cooledge and Brother, 1848 384pgs. See pgs. 146-150 Reprinted by WallBuilder Press, Aledo, Texas, 2007. ISBN 10:0-925279-45-5 or ISBN-13:978-0-925279-45-5
  • People and Events. Samuel Chase. IN: American Experience, PBS Online Webpage created 2000. 2 pgs.
  • Presser, Stephen B. The Original Misunderstanding: the English, the American and the Dialectic of Federalist Jurisprudence Durham, North Carolina Academic Press, 1991 272 pgs. ISBN 0-89089-425-6
  • Rehnquist,William H. Grand Inquests: the Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson New York, Morrow, 1992 303 pgs. ISBN 0-688-05142-1
  • The Religious Affiliation of Samuel Chase, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Supreme Court Justice. IN: Ferris, Robert G., editor Signers of the Declaration; Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence Washington, D.C., U.S. National Park Service, rev. ed.,1975 Online Webpage created 13 Nov. 2005, rev., 22 Nov. 2005
  • Safire, William Scandalmonger: a Novel New York, Simon and Schuster, 2000. 496 pgs. See pgs. 214-232, 433 ISBN 0-684-86719-2
  • Samuel Chase. IN: FindLaw, 2 pgs. Online. Accessed 5 January 2008
  • Samuel Chase. An Article About the Signer of the Declaration of Independence in Wikipedia 4 pgs. Online. Accessed 5 January 2008
  • Supreme Court Justices. Samuel Chase (1741-1811) IN: http://michaelariens.com/ Online 2 pgs. Accessed 5 January 2008.
  • University of Virginia Library. Electronic Text Center Delegates to the Congress, 1774-1784, Volume 4, May 16 1776-August 15 1776. Accessed 6 January 2008 See: John Adams to Samuel Chase, Philadelphia, June 14, 1776, pgs. 209-210. John Adams to Samuel Chase, Philadelphia, June 24, 1776, pgs.303-305. John Adams to Samuel Chase, Philadelphia, July 9, 1776, pgs. 414-416. See Also: Samuel Chase to Horatio Gates, Philadelphia, June 13th. 1776, pgs. 201-203. Samuel Chase to Horatio Gates, July 18th. 1776, pgs.483-484. Samuel Chase to Horatio Gates, Philadelphia, Augst. 9th. 1776, pgs. 643-644. Samuel Chase to Philip Schuyler, Philadelphia, JULY 19th 1776, pgs. 486-387. Samuel Chase to Philip Schuyler, Philadelphia, August 9th, 1776, page number unknown. Samuel Chase to Richard Henry Lee, Montreal, May 17, 1776, pgs. 21-23. Samuel Chase to Richard Henry Lee, Philadelphia, July 30th, 1776, pgs. 570-571.
  • University of Virginia Library. Electronic Text Center Delegates to the Congress, 1774-1784, Volume 5, August 16 1776-December 31 1776,  Accessed 6 January 2008
  • See: Samuel Chase to the Maryland Council of Safety, Philadelphia, Nov. 19th 1776, pgs. 518-519. Samuel Chase to the Maryland Council of Safety, Phila. Nov. 21st. 1776, Thursday Evening, pgs. 525-526.
  • Wives of the Signers: the Women Behind the Declaration of Independence. Foreword by David Barton. Excerpted and reprinted by WallBuilder Press, Aledo, Texas, 1977. 2nd Printing, 2001. ISBN 0-925279-60-9 Original: Harry Clinton and Mary Wolcott Green Pioneer Mothers of America New York, G. P. Putnam, 1912. 283 pgs. See pgs. 217-219.
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4 Responses to Samuel Chase

  1. Howard Balloch says:

    I am a Canadian, born of an American mother (Mary Chase Howard) who met my father during the second World War. Although I served a “foreign power”, retiring as Canada’s Ambassador to China some years ago, I am proud of my American heritage. My mother was, and therefore I am, a direct descendent of Samuel Chase. I have read other works on Samuel Chase. This was a very good summary of his life and influence. Thank you. -hrb

    • jim says:

      Howard, how good it is to hear from you. I would encourage you to join the Society and meet a few of your Chase cousins. Your family has quite a record of overseas connections ranging from India to Germany and many points in between.

      If you are interested in joining the Society, you will find the information on the web site at http://www.dsdi1776.com/applying-for-membership/ .

  2. Danielle Boissat says:

    This is truly amazing to read about his life. Knowing that you are a decedent of someone who had such an influence on this country. I found out recently that I am a decedent of Samuel Chase, and I am so proud. I can’t wait to visit his home the Chase-Lloyd house and find out more about my ancestors.

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