As a lawyer and antislavery leader in Ohio, Salmon
P. Chase was known as the attorney general
for runaway slaves. In 1855 he cast his lot with
the new Republican party and soon vied with William
Henry Seward for its leadership. A candidate for
the partys presidential nomination in 1860, he
lost to Lincoln but was named secretary of the treasury
in the new cabinet.
Although Chase helped to write the Emancipation
Proclamation, his relations with Lincoln became
strained. The personal antagonism between him
and Secretary of State William Seward weakened
the cabinet, and that, combined with Chase's insatiable
desire to become President, eventually led to
his replacement. In 1864 Lincoln appointed him
chief justice of the Supreme Court, where he showed
political wisdom in handling constitutional problems
created by the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Francis B. Carpenter painted this portrait when
Chase was in Lincolns cabinet. Carpenter, who
was active in Washington during the 1860s, painted
other members of Lincoln's administration as well
as the President himself.