Chase, Samuel

Chase, Samuel (1741-1811) Justice of the Supreme Court: Samuel Chase was born in Somerset County, Maryland, on April 17, 1741. Samuel Chase was born in 1741 in a Maryland farm house. Between the age of eighteen and twenty he studied law with a firm in Annapolis, opening his own practice in 1761. In 1764 he joined the colonial legislature, and stayed on for the next decade. When the Stamp Act was passed, he was condemned by Annapolis officials for his involvement in the Sons of Liberty. Between 1774 and 1775, he was active in many patriot organizations; including the Maryland Committee of Correspondence, Council of Safety and the Provincial Convention. He played an active role in the Continental Congress, advocating an embargo on trade with Britain and defending George Washington from his opponents. In 1776, he traveled to Montreal as part of a committee which unsuccessfully sought to form a union with Canada. In 1778, he was not returned to Congress because of accusations of having used privileged information to make money on the flour market. Between 1788 and 1795, he served as chief judge of the Baltimore County criminal court. Although he initially opposed the Constitution, he went on to sign it and become a strong supporter of the Federalists. He held judicial seats at both the county and state level, and between 1796 and 1811 he was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court, he emphasized the supremacy of the federal government over state laws, and supported the limitation of legislative powers. The House of Representatives impeached him in 1804, for misconduct, because he had openly denounced the Jefferson Administration in court. The Senate acquitted him, however, explaining that Chase's behavior did could not be fairly considered misconduct. Chase remained on the Supreme Court until his death in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 1811. He was buried in St. Paul's Cemetery.