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Collection Salmon P. Chase Papers

About this Collection

The papers of Ohio governor, Lincoln cabinet official, and Supreme Court justice Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873) span the years 1755-1898, with the bulk of the material originating between 1824 and 1872. They consist of approximately 12,500 items, most digitally scanned from 38 microfilm reels. The papers focus chiefly on Chase’s legal career, activities as an abolitionist, involvement in Ohio and national politics, tenure as secretary of the treasury (1861-1864), influence on national finance, and service as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court (1864-1873). The collection consists primarily of diaries, correspondence, letterbooks, speeches and writings, financial papers, and legal files arranged in eleven series:

Diaries, 1829-1870
This series consists of diaries kept by Chase during much of his life. The early diaries are more intimate and detailed than the later ones. Entries recorded during the Civil War chronicle Chase’s experience and observations while secretary of the treasury in President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. Entries in the 1862 volumes are in the handwriting of clerk Homer G. Plantz; those for 1863 were recorded by Chase’s personal secretary Jacob W. Schuckers. The contents of the 1870 diary are confined largely to comments on routine affairs, along with a few notes and memoranda.

Family Correspondence, 1821-1872
This series consists of letters written between members of the Chase family, including Chase’s daughters Kate Chase Sprague and Janet “Nettie” Chase Hoyt, and the families of Chase's wives.

General Correspondence, 1810-1898
General Correspondence forms the largest segment of the collection and includes letters sent and received, and in some cases copies of letters sent. All facets of Chase's public career are covered in the General Correspondence series. Early letters relate to Chase's law practice, Ohio and national politics, the Liberty Party, and Chase’s opposition to slavery. During his years as secretary of the treasury, the correspondence centers on problems of national finance, the development of a national banking system, routine operations of the Treasury Department, and the military operations of the Civil War. In the years following his appointment as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, the letters reflect Chase's continued interest in national politics, the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, the creation of a national currency, and the progress of Reconstruction, as well as Chase's involvement with cases and other business of the Supreme Court and the circuit courts.

Letterbooks and Letterpress Copybooks, 1833-1873
The Letterbooks and Letterpress Copybooks treat the same topics found in the General Correspondence. Some volumes are indexed, and most include a few family letters.

Speeches and Writings, 1849-1868
This series includes copies of speeches, published letters, a draft article, and a poem. It includes a printed copy of the eight-page pamphlet Appeal of the Independent Democrats, written by Chase to denounce the Kansas-Nebraska bill (1854).

Financial Papers, 1774-1873
Included  among the Financial Papers are account books, bills and receipts, promissory notes, canceled checks, income tax returns, insurance policies, guardianship and trustee accounts, accounts of law partnerships, and papers relating to the Reform School of the District of Columbia.

Legal File, 1755-1872
The Legal File series consists of abstracts of titles, bonds, deeds, leases, mortgages, powers of attorney, wills, notes on cases, memoranda, and other papers relating to Chase's law practice, as well as his notes on Supreme Court cases and Supreme Court case assignments.

Miscellany, 1840-1896
Miscellany offers an assortment of materials including autobiographical, biographical, and genealogical material, awards and certificates, a commonplace book, drawings, miscellaneous manuscripts, notes and memoranda, papers relating to Woodward College, printed matter, and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings.

Special Indexes
This series consists of the incomplete card index to the correspondence, the original of which is available in the Manuscript Division Reading Room.

Additions, 1850-1858
Later additions to the Chase Papers include a letter, a speech written by Chase, and a typewritten transcript of the speech.

Oversize, 1840
This series consists of an indenture from 1840 removed from the Legal File series after microfilming.  Although the original is stored separately in the physical collection, digitally it can be found in the Legal File series on reel 31.