Governor William Sprague IV of Rhode Island


William Sprague IV (1830–1915) was a wealthy textile manufacturer and politician who served as governor of Rhode Island from 1860 to 1863 and as a U.S. senator from 1863 to 1875. Born in Cranston, Rhode Island, he attended Irving Institute in Tarrytown, New York, but was forced, after the murder of his father, to leave school early to tend to the family business. As governor he played a fundamental role in organizing troops for the Civil War. He accompanied a Rhode Island infantry regiment into action in the First Battle of Bull Run, in which his horse was shot dead under him. He was a registered Democrat, but often voted in support of President Abraham Lincoln’s administration. In 1863, he married Katherine Chase, daughter of Salmon P. Chase, then treasury secretary. The couple had four children. They divorced in 1882. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Date Created

Publication Information

Edward Anthony, New York


Title in Original Language

Govr. Sprague

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : carte-de-visite, albumen paper ; 8.6 x 5.4 centimeters


  1. “Visitors from Congress: William A. Sprague (1830‒1915)” at website “Mr. Lincoln’s White House.”

Last updated: March 30, 2016