Wife of Declaration of Independence Signer Samuel Chase
Anne Baldwin was born in Annapolis, Maryland, daughter of Thomas Baldwin and his wife Agnes. Samuel Chase was born on April 17, 1741, in Somerset County, Maryland. His father, Thomas Chase, was a British-born clergyman for the Church of England. His mother, Matilda Walker Chase, died when he was born. In 1744, Samuel and his father moved to Baltimore, where Samuel grew up and received a classical education under his father’s supervision.
Anne Baldwin Chase
With her daughters Anne and Matilda
Charles Willson Peale, 1772
Chase studied law in Annapolis, Maryland, at the office of Attorney John Hall from 1759 until he was admitted to the bar in 1763. William Paca was a fellow student of Samuel’s in the office of Hammond & Hall, and there began a friendship which lasted their entire lives. The two young men became members of the Provincial Legislature the same year and together were sent to the Continental Congress.
In May 1762, Samuel Chase married Anne Baldwin, and they settled in Annapolis, where they had seven children, three sons and four daughters, three of whom died in infancy. Samuel was twenty-one years old at the time of his marriage, and had just completed his legal studies.
Chase established a lucrative law practice in Annapolis, and began taking an active interest in public affairs that was later to make him an uncompromising patriot. He practiced law at the Mayor’s Court in Annapolis and appeared before other courts throughout the County. In 1764, he was elected to the Maryland Assembly as a representative of Annapolis, where he served until 1784.
An early and active opponent of the British crown, at the young age of 24, Chase openly challenged the right of the English Parliament to tax the Colonies without their consent. In reaction to the Stamp Act of 1765, the Sons of Liberty, of which Chase was most active member, forcibly opened the public offices in Annapolis, seized and destroyed the hated stamps. The stamp distributor or agent was burned in effigy.
Chase’s activities in these riotous demonstrations caused him to be denounced by the city officials as a “busy, restless incendiary, and ringleader of mobs, a foul-mouthed and inflaming son of discord and faction, a common disturber of the public tranquility, and a promoter of the lawless excesses of the multitude.” Chase admitted his participation but maintained that the so called mob was composed of “men of reputation and merit” superior to the court officials. This was a bold stand for a young man to take against the authorities in the Colony.