Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873)

Personal Life

The ninth of eleven children Salmon Portland Chase was born to Ithmar Chase and his wife the former Janet Ralston on January 13, 1808 in Cornish, New Hampshire. Ithmar Chase died nine years after the birth of Salmon Chase, leaving his widow a small amount of property and ten surviving children. [1] Salmon Chase's education began in 1816 in Keene, New Hampshire, than at a better school in Windsor, Vermont. His Uncle Philander Chase, an Episcopal Bishop, took Salmon to the woods of Ohio. Young Chase attended the bishop's school at Worthington, near Columbus. Chase had no love for the monotonous life of farm work. His Uncle worked him hard while he simultaneously studied Greek for two years. In 1822 Cincinnati College appointed Bishop Chase president of the college. At fifteen years old Salmon Chase was admitted as a sophomore. A year at the college was all the Bishop served as he left Cincinnati College, traveling to Great Britain to raise money for the founding of the Theological Seminary in Ohio, later to be called Kenyon College. Gladly Salmon Chase returned to New Hampshire. He entered Dartmouth College as a junior. Graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1826, Chase moved onto Washington, D.C. and conducted a private school for boys. At the same he studied law under the father of a student, United States Attorney General William Wirt. Although he had wished to practice law in Washington, Chase did not have the residency requirement, Ohio allowed him to use his time he lived there with his uncle so after he passed the bar in 1829, he promptly moved back to Ohio where he opened his law practice. He would say his first client paid him a half dollar for drawing a deed and his second client borrowed the half dollar and decamped.[2]

Personal Life in Ohio

While waiting for clients, Chase compiled the scattered and confusing Statues of Ohio', into three volumes. It brought Salmon Chase praise and the recognition he desired. It had taken Chase three years to accomplish the effort. Adding notes and references he produced what became the reference authority in Ohio courts. Soon after completing the Statues of Ohio' at twenty-two years old Chase married Catherine Jane Garniss on March 4, 1834. She was the first of his three wives. Catherine died December 1, 1835 with childbirth fever, leaving a daughter the first Catherine Jane who died four years later. Chase had been away on a legal trip at the time of his wife's death anguished he had left her despite reassurances that she was recovering. With tenderness and anguish from his guilt in his diaries for the rest of his life he would recall his wife Catherine with tenderness. After his death his daughter Kate hid the diaries from Chase's biographers fearing that the love he had for Catherine lessened the affection he had for her mother, his second wife, Eliza Ann Smith. On September 26, 1839, Chase married Eliza. Of the three daughters born only Catherine Jane would survive. Kate would marry Senator William Sprague of RI, textile manufacturer, former Governor of Rhode Island. Sprague money financed Chase's political ambitions. Eliza died of consumption September 29, 1845. Growing accustomed to the darkness of death this time Chase did not go into the deep anguish of mourning that he had for Eliza instead he threw himself deeper into his anti-slavery causes. Sarah Bella Dunlop Ludlow, became the third Mrs. Salmon P. Chase on November 6, 1846. The surviving child of two daughters was Chase's beloved Janet(Nettie)Ralston(Mrs.W.S. Hoyt). Sarah also died of tuberculosis on January 13, 1852. Chase remained a widower the rest of his life. Much to Kate's delight