William Sprague (Rhode Island, 1830–1915)

William Sprague (Rhode Island, 1830–1915)

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William Sprague (Rhode Island, 1830–1915)

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William Sprague IV (September 12, 1830 September 11, 1915) was the 27th Governor of the U.S. state of Rhode Island from 1860–1863, and U.S. Senator from 1863-1875. He participated in the First Battle of Bull Run during the American Civil War.

Early years

Sprague was born in the Gov. William Sprague Mansion in Cranston, Rhode Island, the youngest son of Amasa and Fanny Morgan Sprague. His uncle and namesake William Sprague III was also a Governor and U.S. Senator as well as U.S. Representative from Rhode Island. 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 in Knightsville, Rhode Island. The murder was considered a major event of the period, and the trial of accused killer John Gordon was marked by anti-Irish bigotry; Gordon was subsequently found guilty and executed.Gordon was posthumously pardoned in 2011. Erika Niedowski, , Associated Press, 2011-06-29.

Both brothers were called to work in the family business, the A.& W. Sprague Manufacturing Company, which was then under the direction of their uncle William III. When their uncle died in 1856, William and Amasa – along with their cousin Col. Byron Sprague, son of William III, and their mother Fanny Sprague and Aunt Harriet, widow of William III – became partners in the company. The second incorporation of the A. & W. Sprague Company occurred on June 2, 1859. It soon was the...
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