Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kate Chase and William Sprague

Kate Chase and William Sprague
Politics and Gender in a Civil War Marriage
by Peg A. Lamphier
University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Nebraska, 2003
ISBN 0-8032-2947-X

Kate Chase was the beautiful and brilliant daughter of Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury in the Lincoln Administration and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Salmon Chase was a widower three times over. He raised Kate to grow into an accomplished woman who would grace his home in whatever position he rose to, his ultimate unrealized ambition being president of the United States.

I have been eager to learn more about Kate since reading about her in Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, so it was with hopeful expectation that I began reading this book.

Peg Lamphier is adjunct professor of history at Chaffey College, California State Polytechnic, Pomono, and Mt. San Santonio College in California.

The text is heavily footnoted, but there is no separate bibliography, which I find to be a deficiency. While Ms. Lamphier did draw heavily on the Salmon P. Chase papers in various locations and the papers of Kate Chase and William Sprague, she also relies heavily on recent scholarly books to interpret events and attitudes of the 19th century.

I frankly am not interested in Ms. Lamphier's suppositions and conjectures. I think the book would have been better served without them.

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