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MORE ON SALMON P. CHASE'S BANKNOTE MOTIVES
Arthur Shippee submitted these thoughts in response to Fred Reed's article on Salmon P. Chase's motives in placing his own portrait on U.S. paper money. -EditorWhile I have no opinion on Chase's intentions, I'd like to analyze Reed's criticism of Goodwin. Before rejecting her claim, one must check both sources listed: the unchecked source may be clearer, or both together may make the matter clear. Besides this, the lines quoted are suggestive, showing Brooks' judgments that 1) the public face on the bill was better looking than the man and 2) Chase would make a good president, and further 3) these two ideas were close together in Brooks' mind.
It seems safe to say that 1) Brooks associated $1 Chase with presidential-hopeful Chase, 2) he may have believed that the bill would help Chase's cause, and 3) that he could have believed this to be Chase's doing. While not proof, this does offer support to Goodwin's claim. The missing evidence needs to be weighed before one can seriously discount Goodwin's reasoning. It should be readily available through a university's inter-library loan.
Another factor may be relevant: on whom does the burden of proof lie? The facts that Chase oversaw the office responsible for currency and that common currency with his image was circulated call out for explanation. Self-interest as a reason for this choice seems very plausible on the face of it. Given the mid-19th century context, to take such a step would seem more obvious than notorious. Why is the suggestion of an ulterior motive so troublesome?
I would argue that the burden lies with those who would deny positively that the $1 bill was partly propaganda. While we may never have enough evidence to close the case, to reject the possibility of some personal interest will take more support than Reed offers.
I look forward to someone digging out the other reference, and perhaps to other relevant evidence being produced.
THE JOB BAZARRE
Wayne Homren, Editor
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