Samuel Chase

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Chase, Samuel

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.
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Chase, Samuel

(1741–1811) Supreme Court justice; born in Somerset County, Md. A member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, President Washington named him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1796. President Jefferson attempted to impeach Chase because of his independent stance (1804), but Congress rejected the proposition in a move that secured the strength of the judiciary.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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