The Calvin Shedd Papers > Background > William Henry Seward, William Henry Seward, Jr.

William Henry Seward
William Henry Seward, Jr.

Reference Letter Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.

Faust, Patricia L., ed. Historical Times Illustrated enclclopedia of the Civil War New York: Harper & Row, 1986.

January 1,1863

William Henry Seward

William Henry Seward Jr.
William Henry Seward was born in Florida, New York, on May 16, 1801. He attended Union College in Shenectady, New York, and was admitted to the state bar at the age of 21. He began to practice law in the Auburn, New York, and in 1830 was elected a state senator. He won the office of governor in 1838 and was re-elected in 1840. "As a legislator and governor, Seward sought reforms in state education, promoted internal improvements and a national banking system, and vociferously advocated safeguards on civil rights, including jury trials for fugitives white and black." Seward was considered the front-runner for the presidency in 1860, but lost to Abraham Lincoln. He then accepted the position of Secretary of State under Lincoln. His prudent statesmanship is felt to have helped prevent a military confrontation with England just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. Seward's most memorable achievement after the war was the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 for a mere $7.2 million. (Faust, pp. )

William Henry Seward, Jr., was the youngest son of the Secretary of State. He was born in Auburn, New York, on June 18, 1839. In 1859, he went to Washnigton, D.C. to become private secretary to his father, who was then a United States Senator. The following year he relocated to New York to begin a banking firm. During the early months of 1862, Seward served as secretary of the war committee for his congressional district. He worked in recruiting and forwarding troops to the front. In August, 1862, he accepted the position of lieutenant colonel of the 138th New York Artillery. Seward fought in several campagns and on September 13, 1864, became one of the youngest general officers of the army. Seward resigned his commission effective June 1, 1865, and returned to New York. (Warner, pp. 431-432)