University Archives


Declaration Signer Samuel Chase Superb MDS

A manuscript document signed by Samuel Chase (1741-1811) as "Samuel Chase" above a vibrant flourish/curlicue in the upper right hand corner of the second visible page. The 3pp document (two pages of which are visible) is dated June 2, 1787 from Baltimore, Maryland. Displayed within a floating mount to the right of an engraving by J.B. Forrest after an original portrait of Chase by John Wesley Jarvis, and above a plaque engraved with Chase's pertinent biographical details. Expected toning, paper folds, and wrinkles. Scattered foxing and isolated chipped or stained areas. Else very good to near fine. Matted and framed behind glass. Not examined out of the frame. The sight size of the document is 18.25" x 14" while the overall framed size is 38" x 25.375" x 1.675."

The document contains outstanding legal content pertaining to a Maryland probate case. Chase examines a case in which the testator's primary heir died; should the next heir, the second oldest grandson, inherit instead? Showing a solid grasp of complicated inheritance law as it related to the apportionment of land, the dwelling house, and household goods, Chase also discusses the lack of legal precedents, as well as the eligibility of female and male issue. A fascinating document illustrating the dense and arcane nature of early American law, as well as the finesse of one of its practitioners: Samuel Chase.

Eleven years earlier, Samuel Chase was one of four Maryland delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence, alongside William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll. President George Washington appointed Chase an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1796, a post he held until his death in 1811. President Thomas Jefferson attempted to purge Federalists like Chase from the bench after the 1800 presidential elections. Though Chase was impeached by the House of Representatives on accusations of political bias, he was acquitted by the Senate in 1805.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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