As a lawyer and antislavery leader in Ohio, Salmon P. Chase was known as the “attorney general” for enslaved people who escaped captivity. At a time when almost no one in the free press objected to slavery, Chase openly denounced the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. He also played a foundational role in building the Republican Party by uniting radical abolitionists and moderate liberals.
This portrait by Francis Bicknell Carpenter, who is best known for painting President Abraham Lincoln, is a replica after an original from 1855, the year Chase was elected governor of Ohio. A widely distributed print based on the image increased Chase’s public profile. He went on to become Lincoln’s treasury secretary (1861–64) and the sixth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the latter role, which he served until his death, Chase deftly handled complex constitutional problems created by the Civil War and Reconstruction.