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.
Kate Chase, the charismatic daughter of Abraham Lincoln's treasury secretary, 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. But when William Sprague turned out to be less of a prince as a husband, she found comfort in the arms of a powerful married senator. The ensuing scandal ended her virtual royalty, leaving her a social outcast who died in poverty. Yet in her final years she would find both greater authenticity and the inner peace that had always eluded her.
Set against the seductive allure of the Civil War and Gilded Age, Kate Chase Sprague's dramatic story is one of ambition and tragedy 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 In this beautifully written and meticulously researched biography, drawing on much unpublished material, John Oller captures the tumultuous and passionate life of a woman who was a century ahead of her time.