US Exe Seward, William Henry Sr. - U.S. Secretary of State

William Henry Seward Sr.


Born: March 16, 1801

Birthplace: Florida, New York

Father: Dr. Samuel Swayze Seward 1768 – 1849
(Buried: Florida Cemetery, Florida, New York)​

Mother: Mary Jennings 1769 – 1845

Wife: Frances Adeline Miller 1805 – 1865
(Buried: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York)​

Married: October 20, 1824 in Auburn, New York


Lt. Colonel Augustus Henry “Gus” Seward 1826 – 1876​
(Buried: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York)​
Assistant Secretary of State Frederick William Seward 1830 – 1915​
(Buried: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York)​
Cornelia Frances Seward 1836 – 1837​
(Buried: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York)​
Brig. General William Henry Seward Jr. 1839 – 1920​
(Buried: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York)​
Frances Adeline “Fanny” Seward 1844 – 1866​
(Buried: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York)​

Political Party:

Before – 1834: Member of Anti – Masonic Party
1834 – 1855: Member of Whig Party
1855 – 1872: Member of Republican Party


1820: Graduated from Union College​

Occupation before War:

1823 – 1849: Attorney in Auburn, New York​
Supporter of the Albany Regency until around 1824.​
1824: Had a Carriage accident in Niagara Falls, New York​
1828: Campaigner for John Quincy Adams Reelection Campaign.​
1830 – 1834: New York State Senator​
1832: Hoped Justice John McLean would get nominated for President.​
1834: Unsuccessful Whig Party Candidate for Governor of New York​
1835: Went on a trip to the south going as far as Virginia.​
Agent for Holland Land Company​
1836: Campaigned against Martin Van Buren’s Presidential Campaign.​
1838 – 1842: Governor of New York​
1844: Declined to run for President for the Liberty Party.​
1844: Supporter of Henry Clay’s Presidential Campaign.​
1848: Supporter of Zachary Taylor’s Presidential Campaign.​
1849 – 1861: United States Senator from New York​
1849 – 1851: Member of Senate Territories Committee​
1851 – 1857: Member of Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.​
1852: Supporter of Winfield Scott’s Presidential Campaign.​
Opened his home safehouse for fugitive slaves in New York.​
1853 – 1855: Ranking Member of Senate Pensions Committee​
1854: Didn’t support the Kansas Nebraska Act.​
1855: Joined the Republican Political Party.​
1855 – 1857: Member of Senate Pensions Committee​
1856: Received 1 vote for the Republican Party Nomination.​
1857 – 1861: Member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee​
Tried to be a statesman that both North and South could trust.​
1860: Unsuccessful Candidate for Republican Party Nomination.​

Civil War Career:

1861 – 1869: United States Secretary of State Department​
1863: Accompanied President Lincoln to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.​
Received allegations involving former President Pierce but Pierce denied the allegations.​
1865: Stabbed by assassin Lewis Powell five times in the face and neck.​

Occupation after War:

1867: Leader in the purchase of Alaska from the Russian Empire.​
1868: Hoped President Andrew Johnson would be nominated by Democratic Party.​
1868: Endorsed Ulysses S. Grant for President on eve of the election.​
1868: Met twice with President elect Ulysses S. Grant.​
Embarked on a trip across North America by the new transcontinental Railroad.​
Met with Brigham Young in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory.​
1870: Embarked on another trip westbound around the world.​
1870 – 1871: Spent time in India, Middle East, and Europe.​

Died: October 10, 1872

Place of Death: Auburn, New York

Last Words: “Love one another”

Age at time of Death: 71 years old

Burial Place: Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York
  • His Funeral was attended by his friend Thurlow Weed and Harriet Tubman, President Ulysses S. Grant didn’t attend the funeral.
Seward 2.jpg
Last edited by a moderator:

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
I've read that during the first months of the civil war he proposed a war with some European powers to reunite the states.
He speculated that a foreign war might hold the country together. He certainly never advocated starting one.

At the beginning of 1860, Seward was the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination. Nobody was more shocked than he that he didn't get it. At first, he deeply doubted Lincoln's capacity to govern; but soon became Lincoln's hardest-working and most loyal supporter the the cabinet.

The Alaska purchase was "Seward's Folly," a complete waste of money!
Sep 15, 2018
South Texas
Just read a story and can't assure it's legitimacy but it is amusing. After the Hampton Roads Conference broke up Seward sent the Confederate Commissioners a bucket of champagne. It was delivered by a Black oarsman in a rowboat. Seward supposedly hollered to the Southerners "Keep the champagne but return the Negro."