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Page 3

Samuel Chase

1743-1811

   In the year 1786, at the pressing invitation of his friend, Colonel Howard, he removed from Annapolis to Baltimore. By this gentleman, he was generously presented with a square of ten lots of land, upon a spot in which he erected a house, in which he lived until his death. On his removal from Annapolis, the corporation of that city tendered to him the expressions of their respect, in the following address: "Sir, the mayor, aldermen, and common councilmen of the city of Annapolis, impressed with a due sense of the services rendered to this corporation by you, in the capacity of recorder thereof, do take this occasion to assure you of their entire approbation of your conduct in the performance of the duties of that trust, and to acknowledge your ready exertion, at all times, to promote the interest and welfare of this city, They sincerely regret the occasion of this address, as your removal from the city of Annapolis will deprive this body of a faithful and able officer, and the city of a valuable citizen. You have our warmest wishes for your happiness and welfare.''

   To this address, Mr. Chase returned the following answer: "The address of the mayor, aldermen, and common councilmen of this city, presented me this day, affords me just pleasure, as I flatter myself they speak the genuine sentiments of the citizens. As recorder of the city, duty and inclination urged me to enforce due obedience to the by-laws, and assist in the framing of ordinances for the regulating the police of the city. In the discharge of this duty, I ever received the ready assistance of my brethren on the bench, and of the other members of the corporation, and but a small portion of merit is due to me. My abilities have been much overrated by the corporation; I only wish they had been equal to my inclination to serve them.

   "As one of the delegates of Annapolis, my public powers were exerted on all occasions to promote the interest and welfare of the city; and supported by my colleagues, my endeavors were in some instances crowned with success. I feel myself amply rewarded by the approbation of the body over whom you have the honor to preside. There can be nothing more agreeable to a public character, than to receive the public approbation of his conduct, from those who speak the collected and unbiased sense of his constituents; and it is the only reward a free and virtuous people can bestow, and the only one an honest representative can expect.

   "Be pleased to present the corporation my warmest wishes for their prosperity, and I sincerely hope that the city of Annapolis may be forever distinguished for the harmony and friendship, the benevolence and patriotism of its citizens."

   In the year 1788, Mr. Chase was appointed the presiding judge of a court of criminal jurisdiction, for the county and town of Baltimore, at that time organized. This situation, however, did not prevent him from the practice of his profession, in which he continued until the year 1791, when he accepted the appointment of chief justice of the general court of Maryland. In a previous year, Mr. Chase had served in the convention of Maryland, assembled to ratify the federal constitution on the part of Maryland. With this instrument he was not entirely pleased, considering it not sufficiently democratic. He is said to have belonged to the Federal party in the country, and so to have continued to the end of his life; but not to have entertained that partiality for England which has been ascribed to that party. With this peculiarity of views and feelings, Mr. Chase was not, as might be expected, without his enemies.

   In the year 1794, an event occurred in the city of Baltimore, which gave an opportunity to Judge Chase of exhibiting the firmness of his character, in respect to maintaining the dignity of the bench and the supremacy of the law. The event to which we allude was the tarring and feathering of two men, in the public streets, on an occasion of some popular excitement. The circumstances of the case were investigated by Judge Chase, in the issue of which investigation, he caused two respectable and popular men to be arrested as ring-leaders.

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Last modified January 5, 2005