CHARLES ARTHUR SPRAGUE was born in Lawrence, Kansas. He received a bachelor’s degree from Monmouth College in 1910 and soon after moved to Washington State, where he served as Superintendent of Schools in Waitsburg from 1910 to 1913 and then Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of Washington from 1913 to 1915. In 1915 he became editor and publisher of the weekly Journal-Times in Ritzville, Washington. However, he wanted to be involved with a daily publication, which led him to become business manager of the Corvallis, Oregon Gazette-Times from 1925 to 1937. And in 1929 he purchased controlling interest in the Salem Oregon Statesman, serving first as Editor and Manager and later becoming sole owner and publisher. Although a Republican, he held progressive views on issues of the day and won election as governor in part due to a split in the Democratic Party between conservative and liberal interests. As governor, he vetoed many special interest bills, which led fellow Republicans to undertake a recall effort. Although the effort failed, it dealt him a disabling blow. At the same time, he was able to significantly reduce the state debt, organize state employment services, and help maintain peace in the labor movement. He also introduced state regulation of logging operations to protect and rehabilitate state forest lands. After World War II broke out, Sprague focused on organizing civilian defense units and worked with national officials to expand Oregon’s war efforts. He was defeated for renomination by the Republican Party in 1942 and returned to the newspaper business. He served as alternate delegate to the United Nations in 1952.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. G. New York: James T. White & Company.
Oregon State Archives