Who Was Samuel Chase

SAMUEL CHASE was born in Somerset County, Maryland, April 17, 1741, to The Rev. Thomas Chase, a learned clergyman of the Anglican Church who had emigrated from England, and Matilda Walker, the daughter of a Snow Hill, Maryland, farmer.

After having been educated at home, Chase studied law in Annapolis, being admitted to the bar in 1761. In 1764, he was elected to the Maryland General Assembly where he served for twenty years. During this time, Chase co-founded Anne Arundel County’s Sons of Liberty Chapter with his close friend William Paca while also opposing the 1765 Stamp Act.

Samuel Chase represented Maryland at Continental Congress from 1774 to 1778, and was a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Chase’s judicial career spanned 23 years. He served as Chief Justice of the District Criminal Court in Baltimore and as Chief Justice of the State of Maryland. In 1796, President George Washington appointed Chase as a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States, an office he held until his death on June  19,1811.

During his time on the Supreme Court, Chase, a staunch Federalist with an explosive personality, was unabashedly outspoken against the Jeffersonian Republicans who had gained control of Congress in 1801. As a result of his bitter partisan rhetoric, in November 1804, President Thomas Jefferson urged the House of Representatives to impeach Chase. Chase declared that he was being tried for political convictions rather than for a real crime or misdemeanor.  The trial concluded March 1805 with the Senate acquitting Chase on all counts.

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