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Champion Spalding Chase
1st Attorney General of Nebraska
In office
February 21, 1867 – January 7, 1869
Governor David Butler
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Seth Robinson
17th, 19th, and 20th Mayor of Omaha
In office
April 10, 1883 – June 30, 1884
Preceded by James E. Boyd
Succeeded by Patrick F. Murphy
In office
April 7, 1879 – April 12, 1881
Preceded by Reuben H. Wilbur
Succeeded by James E. Boyd
In office
April 13, 1874 – April 9, 1877
Preceded by James S. Gibson
Succeeded by Reuben H. Wilbur
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 7th district
In office
January 14, 1857 – January 12, 1859
Preceded by Charles Clement
Succeeded by Nicholas D. Fratt
District Attorney of Racine County
In office
January 1, 1858 – January 1, 1860
Preceded by William P. Lyon
Succeeded by N. H. Dale
President of the Board of Education of Racine, Wisconsin
In office
1859–1860
Personal details
Born
Champion Spalding Chase

(1820-03-20)March 20, 1820
Cornish, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died November 3, 1899(1899-11-03) (aged 79)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Resting place Prospect Hills Cemetery
Omaha, Nebraska
Spouse(s)
Mary Sophronia Butterfield
(m. 1849; died 1882)
Children Champion Clement Chase
(b. 1860; died 1922)
Mother Olive Spalding
Father Deacon Clement Chase
Relatives
  • Olive Spaulding (Chase) Judson (sister)
  • Enice Dana Chase (sister)
  • Philemon Murry Chase (brother)
  • Salmon P. Chase (cousin)
Profession lawyer and politician
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Army
Union Army
Rank Union army maj rank insignia.jpg Major
Union army lt col rank insignia.jpg Brevet Lt. Colonel
Battles/wars American Civil War

Champion Spalding Chase (March 20, 1820 – November 3, 1898) was an American politician, who served as the first Attorney General of Nebraska, and served seven years as Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. He also served in the Wisconsin State Senate and was a Union Army officer in the American Civil War.

Early life and career

Born in Cornish, New Hampshire, the son of Clement Chase (1776–1867) and his second wife, Olive Spalding (1790–1823), of Plainfield, New Hampshire, he was named after his maternal grandfather, Champion Spalding. He grew up in Cornish, on his father's farm, and later attended the Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire. He started teaching in Cornish as an adolescent during the winter and moved later in 1840 to continue his teaching in New York.

In New York, he taught at the Academy in Amsterdam, New York, from 1841 to 1842. By 1843 he had moved to Otsego County to be the vice principal of the West Hartwick Seminary. He resided in New York until the end of the 1840s and studied law in Buffalo.

In 1848 he was admitted to the bar at Canandaigua and, in 1849, he moved to Racine, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin public office

In Wisconsin, Chase became involved in politics. He attended the first Republican National Convention in 1856 as part of the delegation from Wisconsin. The convention nominated John C. Frémont as the Republican candidate for the presidency in the 1856 election. The same year, Chase ran for the Wisconsin State Senate and was elected to a two year term, representing Racine County.

During his second year in the Senate, he served as chairman of the judiciary committee and supervised the revision of the statutes of the state. In 1859, he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for the 1st judicial district in Wisconsin. That same year, he was elected President of the Board of Education for the city of Racine. Also in 1859, Chase was appointed Brigadier General of the Wisconsin State Militia, by Governor Alexander Randall.

Civil War service

In 1862, with the assistance of his cousin, Salmon P. Chase (1808–1873), who was then the United States Treasury Secretary, he was appointed paymaster in the Union Army with the rank of Major.

He served four years in the Union Army and during this time he was on special duty in the West and Southwest. He was at the sieges of Knoxville, Mobile, and Vicksburg, and in the later part of the war he was headquartered at New Orleans for nearly two years and would receive a brevet to Lieutenant Colonel from President Andrew Johnson late in 1865, for his meritorious services in the Gulf Campaign. In January 1866 he was honorably discharged.

Nebraska

After mustering out of the Army in 1866, Chase moved to Omaha, in the Nebraska Territory, and resumed his law practice. He also became an investor in the incorporation of the Omaha Street Railway Co. In 1867, Nebraska would be admitted to the Union as the 37th state, and in the state's first general election, Chase was elected to a two-year term as the first Attorney General of Nebraska.

In 1869, he was appointed to a six-year term as regent of the State University of Nebraska, by Governor David Butler.

Chase was elected Mayor of Omaha in 1874, after losing an earlier attempt. He was re-elected in 1875 to a two-year term—this was the first term after Omaha's mayoralty was changed by statute from a one-year term to a two-year term. He was elected to two additional two-year terms in 1879 and 1883, but was impeached and removed from office in June 1884, due to drunkenness impairing his abilities. His wife Mary died to cancer in 1882 and many think this may have contributed to his ill health. Chase later launched quo warranto proceedings in 1887 stating that he had been illegally removed from office, and was unlawfully deprived of the salary of the mayor. The jury rendered a verdict in his favor which gave him some measure of closure.

During his terms as Mayor it was recorded of him as having "favoured extensive public improvements" such as parks and boulevards, and direct and gravitational powered waterworks. As mayor, Colonel Chase received and officially entertained a large number of distinguished people—Kalākaua, King of Hawai'i; Peter II, Emperor of Brazil; the Governor General of Canada; U.S. President and Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes; President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant; Generals William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, George Armstrong Custer, and others.

In 1871, he was elected Grand Senior Warden in the Nebraska Commandary of Knights Templar. In 1886, he was unanimously chosen president of the Nebraska State Humane Society.

Champion Chase was identified as being past commander of the U.S. Grant Post of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Sons of the American Revolution. In 1891 he was an organiser of the Omaha Real Estate Owner's Association. He was selected as the chairman of the International Pan-Republic Congress on Plan and Scope in the mid 1890s. He was appointed a Collector of Customs for the Port of Omaha and held that office until his death in 1898.

Family and personal life

After arriving in Racine in 1849, Chase married Mary Sophronia Butterfield. Their only son, Champion Clement Chase, was born in 1860, and would eventually become a well-known newspaper publisher in Omaha.

Mary Chase died of cancer in 1882, in Omaha, leaving Chase a widower. Chase died as the result of a fall on November 3, 1898, at the age of 78.

He was devoted to the memories of his native town, often expressed his loyalty and love for it. He was buried alongside his wife at the Prospect Hills Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.

Legacy

Chase County, Nebraska, and the unincorporated community of Champion in Chase County, are named after him as a complimentary act on the part of the Legislature of Nebraska.

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