Samuel Chase

Media Items
Personal Information
Monday, April 17, 1741
Wednesday, June 19, 1811
Childhood Location 
Childhood Surroundings 
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Commissioned on 
Wednesday, January 27, 1796
Sworn In 
Thursday, February 4, 1796
Left Office 
Wednesday, June 19, 1811
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
15 years, 4 months, 15 days
Samuel Chase
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Larry Dodd Wheeler)

Samuel Chase was tutored privately and studied for the law under the apprenticeship in an Annapolis, Maryland law office. He was unsuccessful in his business ventures and even declared personal bankruptcy in 1789.

Chase was an ardent nationalist and was a member of the colonial "Sons of Liberty." Though he signed the Declaration of Independence, he was opposed to the revised Constitution that emerged from the 1787 Philadephia convention. He wrote in opposition under the pen name "Caution."

Chase won few friends by his abrasive and overbearing manner. He was a zealous Federalist and his appointment to the High Court by George Washington to replace John Blair did not temper his views one bit. While serving on the Court, he actively campaigned for the Alien and Sedition Acts and sought the indictment of Republican editors who opposed the Federalists. (His colleagues called him "bacon face" because of his large head and reddish-brown complexion.)

Chase is best known for an intemperate act that moved the House of Representatives to vote a bill of impeachment against him in 1804. Chase had given an impassioned speech to a grand jury against democratic "mobocracy." The vote in the Senate was insufficient to impeach him, however. He kept his seat on the Court but disappeared from public attention thereafter.

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Samuel Chase. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
Samuel Chase, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"Samuel Chase," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,