A remarkable piece of national abolitionist history has come home to Cincinnati. A silver pitcher given to Salmon P. Chase "by the Colored people of Cincinnati" has been given by Chase's descendant to Cincinnati Museum Center, where it will be a welcome addition to Cincinnati's rich local history and the Museum Center's own collection of Chase materials. The pitcher highlights the struggle for freedom in this country and Chase's influential activity advocating for the rights of African Americans.
"Years before our nation went to war to end slavery, Chase was fighting for the rights of African Americans right here in Cincinnati," says Douglas W. McDonald, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. "Cincinnati Museum Center is truly grateful to receive this fascinating piece of our nation's history."
Chase began practicing law in Cincinnati in 1830 and became an advocate of abolition and the anti-slavery movement, lending his legal mind to the cause of fugitive slaves, often free of charge. Before he found fame as a politician, member of Lincoln's Cabinet, and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he spoke loudly and passionately on behalf of African Americans when their status and rights as citizens were not recognized. It was for this passionate work that Chase was given the 12-inch silver pitcher in 1845 by a group of grateful African Americans.
The pitcher, fabricated and engraved by the firm of E. & D. Kinsey in Cincinnati, is inscribed with the following dedication: "A Testimonial of Gratitude to Salmon P. Chase, from the Colored People of Cincinnati, for his various public services in behalf of the oppressed, and particularly for his eloquent advocacy of the rights of man, in the case of Samuel Watson, who was claimed as a fugitive slave, February 12, 1845."
For more information on the other Chase artifacts in Cincinnati Museum Center's collections please visit the Cincinnati History Library and Archives page where you search the Museum Center's collections.
This article was derived from the Cincinnati Museum Center press release, "Cincinnati Museum Center acquires unique piece of abolitionist history," dated November 4, 2013. View the press release here. See the Cincinnati Museum Center for more information.