Colonel of the Rhode Island Militia he fought in the Civil War in 1861-62
Civil War Governor of Rhode Island
Civil War Senator from Rhode Island
Member of the President Andrew Johnson Impeachment Congress
Son-in-Law of President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase
(1830-1915) Born in the Governor's Mansion in Cranston, Rhode Island, he was from an extremely wealthy and politically influential Rhode Island family. His Uncle William Sprague was the Governor of Rhode Island, and a U.S. Senator, and Congressman. His father, Amasa, a rich mill owner, was murdered on New Year's Eve in 1843, which became a major event of the period. A trial of the accused killer, John Gordon, was held and he was found guilty and executed. Sprague served as Governor of Rhode Island from 1859-63. During the Civil War he commanded a Rhode Island Militia Regiment, and a battery of light horse artillery, with rank of colonel, and was one of the first to answer President Lincoln's call for troops in 1861 to put down the Southern Rebellion. He fought gallantly at the 1st battle of Bull Run where he had his horse shot out from under him, and he also served at Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia. Offered rank of brigadier general in the Union army, Sprague turned it down to concentrate on his duties as governor. Sprague attended the Loyal War Governors' Conference in Altoona, Pennsylvania, which ultimately backed President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and the Union war effort. He served as U.S. Senator from 1864-75, and was chairman of the Committee on Manufacture, and served on the Committee on Commerce, and on Military Affairs. In 1863, William Sprague married the vivacious socialite, Kate Chase, the belle and acknowledged beauty of wartime Washington, and nemesis of the First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln. Kate was the daughter of President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, who was the former Governor of Ohio. The couple continued to be the social leaders in Washington and Kate had high ambitions for her father to become President of the United States, and she spent a great deal of energy politicking and actively working on his nomination for president which was unsuccessful. However, the marriage became an unhappy one as Sprague drank heavily, and Kate had a notorious affair with New York Senator Roscoe Conkling. In 1873, her father Salmon P. Chase died, her husband lost his fortune in the "Panic of 1873," and later attacked Conkling in a drunken rage. The once darlings of Washington were divorced in 1882. Following his divorce, William Sprague married Dora I. Calvert of West Virginia in Staunton, Virginia, in 1883. Sprague died of complications from meningitis on September 11, 1915, in Paris, France, a day short of his 85th birthday. Following a simple funeral service in France, his 2nd wife Dora arranged for his body to be brought back to Rhode Island draped in an American flag. He received full military honors when laid to rest in the family tomb at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the last living senator who had served during the Civil War.
Signature With State: 5 1/4 x 2 1/4, in ink, W. Sprague, R.I. Nice large bold autograph. Choice condition. Extremely desirable, and important Washington political personality during the Civil War, who also fought in the war while still holding the title as Governor of Rhode Island, a rarity.