Fred Reed submitted the following update on the discussion about why Salmon P. Chase place his own portrait on U.S. paper money. -Editor
Two weeks ago I answered an earlier E-Sylum writer's question on what might have been Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase's motives in putting his mug on the $1 Legal Tender Notes in 1862. I
also questioned a prominent historian's recent statement that Chase's motives were simply crass political self-interest, i.e. that he put his image on the ubiquitous dollar notes and
Lincoln's on the tenspots, because there were more dollars in circulation and that was good advertising to support his political aspirations for the 1864 election.
The historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, referenced two secondary sources for that contention, one an obscure 19th century item and the other the contemporaneous writings of a journalist, Noah Brooks. I
didn't have access to the former but promised to check out the citation for the latter when I returned home. I did so, and discovered I had a different volume of Brooks' writings, so I went
out and drummed up the book Ms Kearns Goodwin cited, which arrived yesterday. Here is exactly what Brooks wrote in a section describing his impressions of Lincoln's cabinet members:
Mr Chase is large, fine-looking, and his well-flattered picture may be found on the left-hand end of any one-dollar greenback, looking ten years handsomer than the light-haired
secretary. . . . If he should be the next president of these United States the executive chair would be filled with more dignity than it has known since the days of Washington.
I fail to see how this substantiates in any way the contention that Chase had ulterior motives that involved the currency designs of the United States.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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