On December 6, 1864, Abraham Lincoln appointed Salmon P. Chase chief justice of the United States. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Chase studied law under Attorney General William Wirt. Championing Sunday Schools and temperance in the 1830s, by the 1840s he was an active member of the abolitionist movement. Chase defended fugitive slaves in Ohio and played a key role in creating the Free Soil Party, which opposed the expansion of slavery into the territories.
With Free Soil support, Chase was elected to the Senate in 1848. He founded the Ohio Republican party and served as the state's first Republican governor from 1855 to 1859. In office, he vigorously opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and defended the rights of African Americans. At the 1860 Republican convention, Chase permitted delegates pledged to support him to cast decisive votes for Abraham Lincoln. As a reward, in 1861, just two days after beginning his second term as senator, Chase left the Senate to serve as Lincoln's secretary of the treasury.