Chase, Salmon Portland (1808–1873), a United States statesman and jurist. He was secretary of the treasury in Lincoln's cabinet, 1861–64, and the sixth chief justice of the United States, 1864–73, serving during the difficult period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. Five times he was an unsuccessful candidate for nomination for the Presidency.
Chase was born in Cornish, New Hampshire, the son of a farmer. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1826. He studied law, was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1829, and settled in Cincinnati. He soon became prominent in the antislavery movement and helped in the development of the Liberty and Free Soil parties. Chase was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1849 by a Free Soil-Democratic coalition. He joined in the formation of the Republican party in 1854 and was elected governor of Ohio as a Republican in 1855 and was reelected in 1857. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1856 and 1860.
Chase was again elected to the Senate, in 1860, but resigned in 1861 when appointed secretary of the treasury. He ably handled the monumental task of administering the nation's finances during the Civil War, although he was unable to curb inflation. His greatest contribution was to sponsor the National Banking Act of 1863, which was the basis of the federal currency system for 50 years. He also drafted the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves.
Chase questioned Lincoln's abilities and tried unsuccessfully to dictate policy to him. He was also at odds with Secretary of State Seward, both men seeking ascendancy in Lincoln's cabinet. In 1864 Chase promoted his own candidacy for the Republican Presidential nomination. After Lincoln was renominated, Chase supported him in the campaign. Chase resigned in 1864 and not long after was appointed chief justice of the United States by Lincoln. As such, he worked to restore the balance between state and national power that had been upset by the Civil War. He presided with fairness and dignity over the Senate's impeachment of President Johnson. Chase unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1868 and the nomination of the Liberal Republican party in 1872.