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American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate…

American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague--Civil War "Belle…

by John Oller

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Kate Chase was the oldest daughter of Salmon Chase, a Republican lawyer and politician in the 1860s and 1870s. Salmon Chase tried for but never attained the highest office, swapping parties and serving several presidents he worked hard and his daughter was his closest supporter and hostess.

Kate was talk, attractive and socially very adept, she bloomed in Washington society. A grand political hostess, she was destined to marry well and on the surface it appeared that she did so. Her husband, William Sprague, was handsome, very rich and the youngest Senator to serve. However this glittering match fell apart, fuelled by alcoholism, infidelity and violence, leaving Kate destitute at the end.

I had never heard of Kate Chase Sprague but she makes an engaging subject for a biography. The insights into the government of the Union during the Civil War are really interesting and whilst Kate comes across as a not wholly sympathetic figure, she was definitely a woman ahead of her time. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
"John Oller writes sympathetically of Kate Chase Sprague (1840-99), the daughter of Treasury Secretary and Chief Justice Salmon Chase.
The author takes us through his subject's life as she moves from a high-class social butterfly who rubs elbows with political elite, has designs on becoming first lady via her father's ascent to the presidency, and butts heads with Mary Todd Lincoln, to a poverty-stricken divorcee whose scandalous affair with a senator helped end her unhappy marriage to a volatile governor. " (Library Journal)

"American Queen : the rise and fall of Kate Chase Sprague, Civil War "Belle of the North" and gilded age woman of scandal."
At first I found the title lengthy.
Now, I will acknowledge it as a comprehensive overview of this biographical sketch.

The setting is Washington, D.C. - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)....19th century
As the socialite emerges, you'll find an intense look at American history, "political intrigue" and the study of a rather complicated woman.

You'll find every emotion you can think of within these pages.

Finally, there is a noteworthy epilogue, and acknowledgments, notes and bibliography are quite extensive.
I think John Oller did a fine job of sparking and sustaining my interest in Kate and giving me adequate "leads" to further develop this period of Americana.

5 ★ ( )
  pennsylady | Feb 11, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0306822806, Hardcover)

Had People magazine been around during the Civil War and after, Kate Chase would have made its “Most Beautiful” and “Most Intriguing” lists every year. The charismatic daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln’s treasury secretary, Kate Chase enjoyed unprecedented political power for a woman. As her widowed father’s hostess, she set up a rival “court” against Mary Lincoln in hopes of making her father president and herself his First Lady. To facilitate that goal, she married one of the richest men in the country, the handsome “boy governor” of Rhode Island, in the social event of the Civil War. She moved easily between the worlds of high fashion, adorning herself in the most regal Parisian gowns, and politics, managing her father's presidential campaigns. "No Queen has ever reigned under the Stars and Stripes," one newspaper would write, "but this remarkable woman came closer to being a Queen than any American woman has."

But when William Sprague turned out to be less of a prince as a husband, Kate found comfort in the arms of a powerful married senator. The ensuing sex scandal ended her virtual royalty; after the marriage crumbled and the money disappeared, she was left only with her children and her ever-proud bearing. She became a social outcast and died in poverty, yet in her final years she would find both greater authenticity and the inner peace that had always eluded her.

Kate Chase’s dramatic story is one of ambition and tragedy, set against the seductive allure of the Civil War and Gilded Age, involving some of the most famous personalities in American history. In this beautifully written and meticulously researched biography, drawing on much unpublished material, John Oller captures the extraordinary life of a woman who was a century ahead of her time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:25 -0400)

In this beautifully written and meticulously researched biography, John Oller captures the tumultuous, passionate, and ultimately tragic life of Kate Chase Sprague, Mary Lincoln's ambitious rival.

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