Reference Entry

Seward, William Henry

Daniel W. Crofts

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780195082098
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:
Seward, William Henry

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Seward, William Henry (16 May 1801–10 October 1872), governor, senator, and secretary of state, was born in Florida, Orange County, New York, the son of Samuel Sweezy Seward, a prosperous farmer and land speculator, and Mary Jennings. Young Seward displayed a quick mind and an independent streak. Defying his overbearing father, he interrupted his studies at Union College to teach for a semester in rural Georgia. Seward graduated from Union in 1820 and soon after completing his legal training (he read law with several private attornies in Goshen and New York City between 1819 and 1822) moved to Auburn in upstate New York. In 1824 he married Frances Adeline Miller, the daughter of his prominent law partner. The Sewards had five children, four of whom survived to adulthood. His devout wife influenced her more worldly husband, especially on matters regarding slavery, but she never could accept his all-consuming political ambition, which made him increasingly a stranger in his own home....

Reference Entry.  4221 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US Politics ; State and Local Government

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