Chase, Samuel

Chase, Samuel

biographical name

(born April 17, 1741, Princess Anne, Md.—died June 19, 1811, Washington, D.C.) U.S. jurist. He was a member of the Maryland assembly (1764–84). An ardent patriot, he helped lead the Sons of Liberty in violent resistance against the Stamp Act. He served on the state Committee of Correspondence (1774), was elected to the Continental Congress, and signed the Declaration of Independence. When Alexander Hamilton exposed his attempt to corner the flour market (1778), Chase retired from Congress, only to return in 1784. He served as chief judge of the Maryland General Court from 1791 to 1796, when Pres. George Washington appointed him to the Supreme Court of the United States. Chase upheld the primacy of U.S. treaties over state statutes in Ware v. Hylton. In Calder v. Bull (1798) he contributed to the definition of due process. At the instigation of Pres. Thomas Jefferson, Chase was impeached for partisan conduct in 1804. His acquittal established the principle that federal judges can be removed only for indictable criminal acts, thus strengthening the independence of the judiciary. Chase served until 1811.

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