Chase, 1878

Nov. 23, 2020

Chase, (Salmon P. Chase), 1878

Salmon P. Chase resigned from the Senate in 1861 to become the 25th Secretary of the Treasury as the Civil War began.  He served for President Abraham Lincoln in that capacity from March 7, 1861 until June 30, 1864.  The war created the need to raise money, and with customs revenue from the Southern cotton trade cut off, Chase had to implement internal taxes. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, later the Internal Revenue Service, was created in 1862 to collect stamp taxes and internal duties. The next year it administered the nation's first income tax.  In order to further finance the war, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was established in 1862 to print the government's first currency, known as greenbacks because of their color. These were legal tender notes not backed by specie. Chase disapproved in principle of the legal tender notes; with no requirement for specie backing they could be printed in unlimited quantities and were therefore inflationary. He recognized their necessity in a time of emergency, but later, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he would declare the notes unconstitutional.  The National Banking System was created in 1863 to establish a uniform currency.  The greenbacks, within a new network of national banks, directly involved the government in banking for the first time.  Chase resigned in 1864, having put the nation's finances in a more favorable condition.  Lincoln appointed him Chief Justice later that year, and he presided over the Court during the difficult period of Reconstruction.

Salmon P. Chase was born in 1808. He died in 1873.

Builder:  Thomas Brown, Philadelphia, PA

Length:  115' 5"

Beam:   24' 11"

Draft:  12'

Displacement: 142 tons

Cost: ???

Commissioned:  6 August 1878

Decommissioned: 17 July 1907

Disposition: Transferred to the U.S. Public Health Service, ultimate fate unknown.

Complement:  32


Shortly after the creation of the Revenue Cutter School of Instruction, Revenue-Captain J. H. Merryman, the Revenue Cutter Service's Superintendent of Construction, began work on the design for a school ship to replace the little Dobbin.  The Salmon P. Chase, named after Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, was a beautiful three-masted barque with a hull length of 106-feet, accommodations for a dozen cadets, and the lines of a clipper ship.  The Chase went into service in the summer of 1878, with its home port at New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Here she served as the Revenue Cutter School of Instruction's training ship.  She made cadet cruises to Europe, the Azores, the West Indies, and along the eastern coast of the U.S.  When in New Bedford, she tied up just above the bridge at the north end of Fish Island.  Here she served as a berthing area for the cadets.  The government leased buildings on the north end of the island and used the nearby Mitchell Boat Company buildings for classes, drills, and storage.  Most classes, however, were held aboard the Chase.

In the late nineteenth century the service briefly enjoyed a surplus of officer candidates, largely because the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis was graduating more officers than the Navy could employ.  In 1890 the Chase was taken out of commission, and for the next four years the Revenue Cutter Service filled the ranks of its officer corps with Annapolis graduates.  The 1890's, however, saw an expansion of the Navy, and in 1895 an Act of Congress provided for the retirement of numerous Revenue Cutter Service officers who were to ill or too old to perform their duties.  The result was a shortage of junior officers -- and a new lease on life for the service's training barque.

The Chase was taken into dry dock, cut in half, and lengthened by forty feet; the new hull section made room for a total of twenty-five cadets.  The alterations also seem to have affected the Chase's sailing qualities.  Virtually every photograph taken after the rebuilding shows staysails set on the mizzen stays but none on the main.

In its new configuration the Chase remained in service for two more decades, continuing to make practice cruises to Europe, including the port of Cadiz, Spain, in 1904, as well as the east coast ports of the United States.  The old barque's last official function was a visit to Hampton Roads, Virginia, for the Jamestown Tricentennial celebration of 1907.  Her crew then transferred to the cutter Itasca and the Chase was given to the U.S. Marine-Hospital Service where she saw service as a Quarantine vessel.  At the end of her government career she was refitted and reclassified as a detention barge.*

*Information provided courtesy of Russell Graham, R.S.

(Click thumb-nail to see full-size image)

Original photo caption; description; date; photo number & photographer (if known). Unless otherwise noted all photos are official U.S. Coast Guard photographs.

Salmon Chase

"Chase."; no date/photo number; photographer unknown.

300 dpi

Salmon Chase

"Chase."; no date/photo number; photographer unknown.

300 dpi

Salmon Chase

No caption/date/photo number; photographer unknown.

Salmon Chase

"Class of 1896 on Chase."; no date/photo number; photographer unknown.

300 dpi