Masami and I have just returned from a wonderful week-long vacation in the San Juan Islands. The purpose of this blog post is to argue that people should take vacations, even during the pandemic, perhaps especially during the pandemic. First, however, I need to explain about a Backroads vacation, why we love Backroads so much.…

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As you will see, if you are here, I have a new web site. My friends at AuthorBytes urged me to update, so that the site works better for those viewing it through their phones. So I would be especially curious to hear from readers/viewers who are looking at the site in that way: does…

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I am reading this morning an excellent essay, by Edward White, about the “judicial culture” of the Supreme Court in the years in which Chase was Chief Justice. In a photo caption, White quotes Chase commenting on one of his colleagues on the Supreme Court, Samuel Freeman Miller, calling him the “dominant personality” of the…

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In May 1865, Chief Justice Salmon Chase visited the southern states to see for himself their condition. The civil war was almost over, it was clear that the southern states would rejoin the United States, but the terms on which they would join were not clear. In particular, it was not clear whether the federal…

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Memorial Day originated after the Civil War, as communities gathered at this time of year to honor those who had died in the War. In late May 1869, Chief Justice Salmon Chase received a letter from South Carolina, inviting him to speak at a cemetery there. He responded as follows: “Your note inviting me to…

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I was watching Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch last night, talking about their great new book, The Lincoln Conspiracy, on which I provided some research help. Brad lamented our tendency to worship people like Lincoln, saying that this prevents us from seeing Lincoln as a person, one who made some mistakes as well as did…

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Many of my Civil War friends gather every November in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for the Lincoln Forum. It is a wonderful event: a mix of book talks, panel discussions and performances. It is a chance to catch up with old friends and to make new ones. I have been consistently impressed by the level of historical…

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A month before Lincoln gave his great speech at Gettysburg, in November 1863, Chase gave a good speech, although much longer, at Indianapolis. Chase had traveled from Washington to Cincinnati, Ohio, to vote in the state election there, in favor of the Union ticket. On the day after the Ohio election, Chase went by train…

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I am fortunate that most of what I do, researching and writing about Chase, I can do from home, while we are quasi-quarantined here because of the coronavirus. One thing that I cannot do is go to a library to check a letter, so I am having to make some educated guesses about what letters…

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My wife Masami and I are just back from four great days in the Grand Canyon. We joined an REI Adventures group, two guides and seven guests, walking down to the bottom of the Canyon, spending two nights at the Phantom Ranch, then walking back up on the fourth day. My wife Masami, once again,…

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