But really, that doesn’t even begin to sum up the life and career that Spinola enjoyed. Born near Stony Brook, Long Island, Spinola grew up in a wealthy, influential family. After a swanky private education, he set up practice as a lawyer in Brooklyn.
In the 1850s he was part of the “Secret Police” that helped to keep peace on the gang-ridden streets of New York. He was an alderman several times, a member of the NY State Assembly, a NY State Senator, and also the Commissioner of the New York Harbor–all before the age of 40.
During the Civil War, Spinola enlisted and was commissioned as a Union Brigadier General. At one point he recruited and organized his own bridge of 4 regiments referred to as “Spinola’s Empire Brigade.”
After the Civil War he served as alderman again, and eventually landed a position in the U.S. House of Representatives.