LITHOGRAPHED CDV OF UNION SECRETARY OF STATE WILLIAM SEWARD

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Item Code: 160-423

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Image is a left profile view of President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward.

Contrast and clarity are very good. Mount and paper are also in very good condition. Bottom of the mount is printed with “HON. W. H. SEWARD.”

Reverse is blank.

William Henry Seward was born on May 16, 1801 in Florida, New York where his father was a farmer and owned slaves. He was educated as a lawyer and moved to the Central New York town of Auburn. Seward was elected to the New York State Senate in 1830 as an Anti-Mason. Four years later, he became the gubernatorial nominee of the Whig Party. Though he was not successful in that race, Seward was elected governor in 1838 and won a second two-year term in 1840. During this period, he signed several laws that advanced the rights of and opportunities for black residents, as well as guaranteeing jury trials for fugitive slaves in the state. The legislation protected abolitionists, and he used his position to intervene in cases of freed black people who were enslaved in the South.

After many years of practicing law in Auburn, he was elected by the state legislature to the U.S. Senate in 1849. Seward's strong stances and provocative words against slavery brought him hatred in the South. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1855, and soon joined the nascent Republican Party, becoming one of its leading figures. As the 1860 presidential election approached, he was regarded as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. Several factors, including attitudes to his vocal opposition to slavery, his support for immigrants and Catholics, and his association with editor and political boss Thurlow Weed, worked against him, and Abraham Lincoln secured the presidential nomination. Although devastated by his loss, he campaigned for Lincoln, who appointed him Secretary of State after winning the election.

Seward did his best to stop the southern states from seceding; once that failed, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Union cause. His firm stance against foreign intervention in the Civil War helped deter the United Kingdom and France from recognizing the independence of the Confederate States. He was one of the targets of the 1865 assassination plot that killed Lincoln and was seriously wounded by conspirator Lewis Powell. Seward remained in his post through the presidency of Andrew Johnson, during which he negotiated the Alaska Purchase in 1867 and supported Johnson during his impeachment. His contemporary Carl Schurz described Seward as "one of those spirits who sometimes will go ahead of public opinion instead of tamely following its footprints.

Seward died on October 10, 1872 and is buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.  [ad][ph:L]

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