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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I am just back from a few days of research at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. My main purpose in going was to look at newspapers from Illinois from October 1854 and October 1858. In both of those months, Chase campaigned for Republicans in Illinois. 1854 was the anti-Nebraska election, when the…

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I am speaking next Tuesday to the LA Civil War Roundtable about William Henry Seward. As I wrote the speech, I revisited the question of “Seward’s Folly.” In the book, which I published seven years ago, I said that although there were some critics of the Alaska purchase in 1867, none of them used the…

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As I write the Chase biography, I continue research, and interesting details emerge. I am working today on the chapter about 1856. I knew that Chase had dinner with Francis Blair and others in Washington on December 29, 1855, and I knew that Chase gave his inaugural address as governor in Columbus on January 14,…

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My grandmother, Dudley Casteel Thompson Stahr, 1902-1986, was married twice, first in 1922 to Clarence Thompson, 1900-1925, and then in 1930 to my grandfather, Roland Stahr, 1901-1969. I knew vaguely that my grandmother had been “married before her marriage” but did not know much about Clarence Thompson until the past few days. My father and…

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My family is donating its family papers to Chapman University. These are not just papers of my mother, my father and myself. They are papers of my grandparents: Burgess Dempster, Nell McBroom Dempster, Roland Stahr, and Dudley Casteel Stahr. And they are in some cases papers of my great-grandparents, including my namesake Walter Casteel and…

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As I research the Chase book I come across items I wish I had seen for the Seward or Stanton books. For example, today I was reading a March 1847 letter from Salmon Chase to Lewis Tappan, one of the Liberty Party leaders in New York. Chase was commenting on the decision of the Supreme…

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My parents are cleaning out their house, preparing to move to an assisted living facility. They are coming across ancient letters, including the following 1918 letter from my great-grandfather, Lynn Rowland MacBroom. MacBroom was born in Indiana in 1881, grew up in Lafayette, attended Purdue University, graduating with an engineering degree in 1902. He then…

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In early October 1863, Seward drafted and Lincoln issued a proclamation, calling upon Americans to thank God for their blessings.  How much of the final proclamation is Seward and how much Lincoln we do not know, but even Gideon Welles, who did not much like Seward, praised Seward’s draft in this case. I received a…

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Simon & Schuster has asked me for a list of my speeches about Seward, which turns out to be a long list.  While looking for them on my old computer, I came across these remarks at Seattle Prep in early 2014.  I post them in case they might help others understand why and how I…

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