Chase in Decline
Salmon Chase was not able to live out his last years peacefully. In the midst of his political and judicial concerns he had also to contend with an ongoing family crisis involving the stormy marriage of his daughter Kate and William Sprague. The beautiful Kate was so thoroughly ambitious and demanding for herself and her father that Sprague found it difficult to meet her expectations. The couple's relationship had always been unstable also because of the senator's moody and noncommunicative nature. Both were highly sensitive and proud and easily offended by even the most minor transgression of the other, a situation compounded by Sprague's drinking habits and feelings of insecurity. Both were given to frequent outbursts of temper which made Chase's situation uncomfortable as he continued to live with them in Washington at Sixth and E Streets. Domestic relations were further complicated for Chase because of the political situation. As Chase's differences with Republicans evolved during 1867 and 1868, Sprague's position as a member of the party added to the tensions. This was particularly true during the impeachment trial and as Kate began her personal efforts to secure the Democratic nomination for her father.
Following the wedding in November 1863, there had been a degree of harmony in the Sprague-Chase household. While Chase was on his southern tour during the spring of 1865 Kate gave birth to a son whom she wanted to name after her father. Chase convinced her, however, to name him after Sprague, because he must "take the