In 1841 he headed a call for a convention at Columbus, the State capital, to organize the Liberty party in the State of Ohio, and at the same time nominate a State ticket. Less than a hundred sympathizers responded to the call, and the ticket put in nomination received less than one thousand votes.
Among the attendants at the Columbus meeting was a near kinsman of the author. On his return, in describing the proceedings, he said that pretty much everything was directed by a Mr. Chase (Salamander Chase was his name, he said), a young Cincinnati lawyer. That young man, he declared, would yet make a mark in the world.
From that time every important move was directed by Chase. He prepared the calls for important meetings. He wrote their addresses and their platforms. He made the leading speeches. He presided at the great convention at Buffalo in 1848, which formulated the “Free-Soil” party—successor to the Liberty party—and wrote the platform which it adopted.
In speaking of Chase’s share in the independent organization of this time, William M. Evarts says: “He must be awarded the full credit of having understood, resolved upon, planned, organized, and executed this political movement.”
The movement thus conducted by Mr. Chase was slow and tremendously laborious, but it was effective. In the presidential elections of 1844 and 1848 it held the balance of power and turned the scale to further its purposes. In 1852 it shattered and destroyed one of the old pro-slavery parties, and became the second party in the country instead of the third. In eight years more it was the first.
The charge has been made against Mr. Chase that, while a member of Lincoln’s Cabinet, he aspired to supersede his chief in the Presidency. But did he not have a right to seek the higher office, especially when the policy pursued by its incumbent did not meet his full approval? He merely shared the sentiment that was then entertained by nearly all the radical Anti-Slavery people of the country. It is not unlikely that Chase felt somewhat envious of Lincoln. After, as he stated in his letter of congratulation to Mr. Lincoln on his first election, he had given nineteen years of continuous and exhausting labor to the freedom movement, it would be but natural that he should feel aggrieved when he saw that the chief credit of that movement was likely to go to one who had, to his own exclusion, come up slowly and reluctantly at a later day to its support. If he were somewhat jealous, it would be hard not to sympathize with him.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
If I were asked to name the man who, next to Salmon P. Chase, most effectually and meritoriously contributed to the liberation of the black man in this country, I should unhesitatingly say John Quincy Adams.