Governor William Sprague

All Titles

  • Governor William Sprague

Dublin Core


Governor William Sprague


Image of Rhode Island Governor William Sprague.

William Sprague was the son of William Sprague [1773-1836] and Anna Potter [1763-1828]. He was born in the Gov. William Sprague Mansion in Cranston, Rhode Island, and pursued classical studies as a student. He engaged in mercantile pursuits and was a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, serving as speaker from 1832 to 1835 and leading a coalition of Anti-Masonic and Democratic Party members.

He was elected as an at-large candidate from the Whig Party to the Twenty-fourth Congress and served from March 4, 1835, to March 4, 1837. He declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1836. He was elected Governor of Rhode Island in 1838. He subsequently was elected as a Whig to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Nathan F. Dixon and served from February 18, 1842, to January 17, 1844, when he resigned. He served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills in the Twenty-seventh Congress. He was a U.S. presidential elector on the Whig ticket in 1848.

His family fortune came from the cotton and paint manufacturing, and he assumed active control of the family business following the murder of his brother Amasa on December 31, 1843. The Senator took an active interest in the trial of the Gordon brothers for the murder. The trial resulted in one of the defendants being sent to the gallows, and remains highly controversial for the amount of anti-Irish bigotry involved. In 2011, the condemned man was posthumously pardoned by the Rhode Island governor.

In addition to the family business, he was president of the Hartford, Providence, and Fishkill Railroad, and of two banks. William has family an extended family that live in Utica, NY. Sprague died in Providence, Rhode Island, and is interred in Swan Point Cemetery there.
Source: William Sprague III From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

See also:

Rhode Island State Archives Resources

A Battle Hard Fought - Rhode Island and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Observance

Civil War – Commission to Preserve the Military Records of the State

Military Records - Civil War

Civil War Recruitment Book (1861)

Board of Military Enrollment

Adjutant General - Orders Received, Executive Department (1857 - 1858;1861; 1863)

Civil War - Record Book, Orders received, First Detached Militia / Tenth Rhode Island Volunteers (1861 - 1862)

Rhode Island Militia - Enrolled Men, Town Returns (1843 - 1898)

Additional Resources

National Archives Civil War Photographs

National Archives Civil War Records

National Archives The Civil War as Photographed by Mathew Brady

Library of Congress US Civil War: Selected Resources


Copyright is in the public domain unless otherwise specified. We reserve the right to restrict reproduction of materials due to preservation concerns.





Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format




"Governor William Sprague," in Virtual Exhibits, Item #700, (accessed September 20, 2019).