Most Americans have never heard of Salmon P. Chase. Of those who have, many know him for just one thing: he was an ambitious politician who wanted to be president. Those who have read journalist Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals (2005) have also been told that Chase was a thorn in the side of Abraham Lincoln. But for many, Chase is just a name—Chief Justice John Roberts once told me the only thing he knew about him was that during Chase’s tenure as Chief Justice (1864-73), Congress changed his title from “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court” to “Chief Justice of the United States.” Today, millions of people use a credit card issued by JPMorgan Chase, without realizing that the bank was posthumously named in honor of Salmon Chase, who had served as secretary of the Treasury.

But Salmon Chase ought to be far better remembered: he was an American icon, statesman, and hero. His story is quite simply the story of slavery’s demise in America. Chase’s previous biographers failed to chronicle comprehensively his tireless efforts on behalf of the abolitionist cause. Now, at long last, Chase has the biography he deserves in Salmon P. Chase: Lincoln’s Vital Rival, by celebrated historian and legal scholar Walter Stahr, whose previous books include Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary (2017) and Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable

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