Samuel Chase

Samuel Chase

by Janelle Pavao

Samuel Chase was a Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and an associate judge to he United States Supreme Court. Over the course of his career, his view became extremely Federalist, which eventually led to him being impeached for letting his political views affect his judgement in court.

Samuel Chase Public domain image.

Samuel Chase was born on April 17, 1741. As a child, Samuel was homeschooled by his mother and father. When we was 18, he moved to Annapolis to study law under John Hall, an attorney there. In 1761, Chase passed the bar and started practicing law in Annapolis.

In May of 1762, Samuel Chase took Ann Baldwin to be his wife. The couple had seven children together, however, due to high infant mortality rates in the 18th century, only four lived to adulthood. Later that same year, he was expelled from a local debate club called the "Forensic Club." The reason was cited as "extremely irregular and indecent behavior," and was never explained more fully than that, and shortly after, he was elected to the Maryland General Assembly.

In 1776, Samuel Chase went as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence. Samuel remained in the Congress until  1778, when he tried to use insider information obtained through Congress to make a fortune off of the local grain market. When the scandal became public, he was not re-elected to Congress.

In 1786, Chase moved to Baltimore. Two years later, he was elected Chief Justice of the Criminal Court in Baltimore. On January 26, 1796, Samuel Chase was appointed associate judge of the Supreme Court. In the early 1800's, Thomas Jefferson noticed that Samuel Chase let his Federalist views greatly influence his rulings in court. Upon this realization, Jefferson started a campaign to have Chase impeached. Hee and several other government figures wrote several letters of impeachment and sent them to Samuel. On March , 1805, Samuel Chase was impeached from office. He is the only Supreme Court judge to have ever been impeached.

After his impeachment, Chase retired to his home. Samuel Chase died on June 19, 1811.

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