SEATED VIEW OF RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR & SOLDIER WILLIAM SPRAGUE

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Item Code: 224-577

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Image shows Sprague seated wearing a dark double-breasted frock coat with a high black felt collar and black felt cuffs. Thrown over his shoulders is a matching dark cape.

Image has very good contrast and clarity. Mount and paper are very good but top corners have been clipped and trimmed. Bottom center of the mount has a ink ID of “HON. WILLIAM SPRAGUE” over RHODE ISLAND’S WAE GOVERNOR.”

Reverse is blank except for some collector information at bottom.

William Sprague IV was born in the Gov. William Sprague Mansion in Cranston, Rhode Island on September 12, 1830. Sprague's family spent considerable time in Thorsby, Alabama, but eventually returned so the children could attend Irving Institute. William and brother Amasa's education at the Irving Institute in Tarrytown, New York, was cut short when their father was murdered on New Year's Eve in 1843.

Both brothers were called to work in the family business, the A.& W. Sprague Manufacturing Company. By 1859 it was the largest calico printing textile mill in the world. The company ran five weaving mills in New England. The Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad connected the five mills to the Sprague Print Works in Cranston.

Like his uncle, William Sprague IV had an interest in politics and was elected in 1860 as the Rhode Island Union Party candidate for Governor over the Republican Party whose candidate was seen as too radical. He was re-elected in 1861 and 1862. At twenty-nine years old, he was the youngest governor of a state at that time. He was sometimes referred to as the "boy governor," a title he may have given himself while campaigning for election.

Upon Lincoln's call for volunteers in April 1861, a brigade of two infantry regiments was raised by Rhode Island. Sprague, believing that the war would last only 48 hours, accompanied the Rhode Island brigade, under command of Colonel Ambrose Burnside, in the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. During the battle, while Sprague acted as an aide to General Burnside, his horse was shot from under him. Although offered a commission as a Brigadier General of Volunteers on August 9, 1861, he declined the appointment to focus on his duties as governor.

Retiring from the governor's office in 1863, he was elected by the state Senate to two six year terms as US Senator from Rhode Island, taking office on March 4, 1863 and serving until March 3, 1875.

After leaving the Senate, he resumed the direction of his manufacturing establishments. He operated the first rotary machine for making horseshoes, perfected a mowing machine, and also various processes in calico printing.

On November 12, 1863, Sprague married Kate Chase, daughter of Salmon P. Chase, the former Governor of Ohio and Secretary of the Treasury. She was considered the belle of Washington. The marriage ended in divorce in 1882.

William's financial and political fortunes rapidly deteriorated in 1873, with the financial panic. His holdings were extensive both in Rhode Island and nationally. Severe setbacks occurred to the A. & W. Sprague Company following the Panic of 1873.

Sprague regained his interest in politics to become the first Narragansett, Rhode Island Town Council President in 1900. On October 11, 1909, a fire destroyed the Sprague mansion, including Sprague's diaries and other valuable artifacts. Sprague moved to Paris. During World War I, he opened his apartment as a convalescent hospital for the wounded of all nationalities.

Sprague died of complications from meningitis on September 11, 1915, a day short of his 85th birthday. Following simple funeral services in France, his body was 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.  [ad] [ph:L]

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