Monday, April 11, 2022

Opening paragraphs................

      Salmon Portland Chase never liked his name.  In his early twenties, Chase wrote to a college classmate that he was thinking of changing his "awkward, fishy name" to something more impressive, like Spencer Payne Cheyce.  Five years later, he had another idea:  Samuel Paca Chase, taking the names of one of the early justices of the Supreme Court, Samuel Chase, whom Chase believed was a distant relation, and William Paca, another signatory of the Declaration of Independence, apparently simply because his last name started with P.  During the Civil War, when an admirer wrote that he was thinking of naming his son Salmon Portland, Chase replied that he "had the misfortune to be born about a year after my uncle Salmon Chase died at Portland; and to have a sort of monument to his memory made of me by giving me the name of Salmon Portland."  His uncle "was an excellent man and Portland a very respectable city, but somehow I never liked the name derived from them."  Chase urged the father to think of "the feelings of your boy, fifteen years hence or twenty," and to find a better name.

-Walter Stahr, Salmon P. Chase: Lincoln's Vital Rival

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