*blinks, nonplussed at the revelation* (if one is *not* nonplussed, is “plussed” a word? It doesn’t add up (yes, the pun is intentional))
That’s a very good point, and Chase was an abolitionist. To be sure, Chase could also have been trying to find a rationale to keep from trying Davis for treason, with an eye towards helping the nation heal) in an effort akin to modern-day Justices who engage in rhetorical gymnastics to advance their personal agendas.
Of course I have no proof that such was his intention, though there were many at the time who did feel that way.
Also, regardless of whether Chase may have been right or wrong at the time, I know that definitions, contexts, and understandings change over time. For instance, racism was ubiquitous even in the North at the time, but many of those racists would have denied being racist at all. I know this because I grew up in the Mississippi Delta. Every White I knew — including my family and myself — were quite racist, but any of us would have been greatly offended at being called racist; we believed that we were all good people who cared for Blacks, and that the real racists were just those who wore silly robes and pointed hoods. Most racists don’t recognize their racism for what it is.
I say that in order to illustrate how the understanding of treason at the time, when there were likely still Americans who had been born before the American Revolution, may have been somewhat different from today, for in the view of today’s military regulations (I’m retired Navy), the actions of the Confederates were indeed treasonous.
But I’m probably making the mistake of going too far down the metaphorical rabbit hole. I truly appreciate your response, and what I will do is if I write about treason by the Confederates in the future, I’ll have to include what you pointed out about Justice Chase’s decision on Davis. Thank you *very* much.