Samuel Chase

Chase, Samuel, 1741–1811, political leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1796–1811), b. Somerset co., Md. A lawyer, he participated in pre-Revolutionary activities and was a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses. In 1776 he was appointed, together with Benjamin Franklin and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, to win Canada over to the Revolutionary cause, but the plan failed. Chase helped to influence Maryland opinion to support independence from Great Britain. Although he opposed adoption of the U.S. Constitution, he later became a strong Federalist and President Washington appointed him (1796) to the U.S. Supreme Court. A series of brilliant and influential decisions established his leadership in the court until he was eclipsed by the rising genius of John Marshall. Chase was impeached (1804) by the U.S. House of Representatives for discrimination on the bench against Jeffersonians. Tried before the Senate (1805), he was found not guilty. This verdict discouraged further attempts to impeach justices for purely political reasons.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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