Kate Chase is probably the most tragic story you’ve never heard from American History. The daughter of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Kate grew up with her eye on American Politics and raising herself as high as a woman at the time of the Civil War could. Hated by Mary Todd Lincoln, Kate was the envy of Senators’ wives at the time period. Though her youth was spent married to Senator (and then the Governor of Rhode Island) William Sprague, Kate was cheated on and treated with disdain. She died in poverty as an old woman, but always lived on her own terms.
In John Oller’s new book, American Queen, Kate Chase finally gets her say. Oller’s book is sympathetic and kind to a woman that men wanted and women wanted to be for most of her days in Washington DC. The book highlights the nature of the political climate as well as the changes to life after Lincoln’s unexpected assassination. Kate’s story is not an easy one to read and more than once I found myself angry for her, even as she maintained an aura of strength and poise like a figure of American royalty.
If you’ve never heard of Kate Chase or her contributions to American politics, now is the time to hear her story.
American Queen: The Rise and Fall of Kate Chase Sprague is available October 28, 2014 from Perseus Book Group.