Friday, May 31, 2013

William Seward, born May 16, 1801




William Henry Seward was born in Florida, New York on May 16, 1801, the fourth of six children born to Samuel Sweezy Seward and his wife Mary Jennings Seward. At the time there were only a dozen buildings in the village of Florida.  The Seward house consisted of 5 rooms on the main floor with a staircase leading to a large loft made up of 2 bedrooms with sloping walls and a large chimney. The Sewards owned three slaves who lived in the kitchen and the attic above it. 

Samuel Seward, described as "a prosperous, domineering doctor and businessman," was the founder of the S.S. Seward Institute, which today is a secondary school in the Florida Union Free School District.  The Seward family had migrated to America in the early eighteenth century. Samuel's father was a colonel in the New Jersey Militia during the Revolutionary War.

"Harry", was red-haired, blue-eyed, and slight of build, bright, charming, and stubborn, with a taste for adventure. His health was delicate, but he had a studious bent.

Harry developed his views about slavery while still a boy. His parents, like other Hudson Valley residents of the early 19th century, owned several slaves. (Slavery was slowly abolished in New York from 1797 to 1827 through a gradual mandated process.) He recalled his preference as a child for the company and conversation of the slaves in his father’s kitchen to the 'severe decorum' in his family's front parlor. He discerned very quickly the inequality between races, writing in later years "I early came to the conclusion that something was wrong…and [that] determined me…to be an abolitionist." This belief would stay with Seward through his life and permeate his career.
Union College
Harry started school in a one-room school a half mile from his home.  At nine, he was sent to the Farmer’s Hall Academy in Goshen ,where he boarded.  When he was fifteen he attended Union College, a liberal arts college in Schenectady.   Feeling that his clothing marked him as coming from a small village, he ordered expensive clothing from a local tailor. His father refused to pay the bill and Harry rebelled, left college and traveled to Georgia, where he found a job teaching in a small town. When his parents located him, his father was angry and his mother distraught.  After several months away, he returned home and completed his college education at Union College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1820.

He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1821.  Also that year, he met  Frances Adelina Miller, a classmate of his sister, Cornelia, at  Emma Willard's Troy Female Seminary, and the daughter of Judge Elijah Miller of Auburn, New York.   Frances, although a practicing Episcopalian, had received a Quaker education in Cayuga County.

He was 60 years old when the Civil War began.

Miller  / Seward Home, Auburn, New York
In 1823, Seward moved to Auburn where he entered into law partnership with Judge Elijah Miller in the firm, Miller & Seward.

Frances Miller Seward
Seward married Frances Miller on October 20, 1824. Seward married the Judge's daughter, on the condition that they would live with Miller in his Auburn home. They had six children:

  • Augustus Henry Seward (1826–1876)
  • Frederick William Seward (1830–1915)
  • Cornelia Seward (1836–1837; died of smallpox at the age of 5 months)
  • William Henry Seward, Jr. (1839–1920)
  • Frances "Fanny" Adeline (1844–1866)
Thurlow Weed
Seward entered politics with the help of his friend Thurlow Weed, whom he met by chance after a stagecoach accident.  Seward served as an Anti-Masonic member of the New York State Senate from 1831 to 1834.  


Seward
In 1833, Seward went to Europe on a sightseeing journey.  His letters to Weed, published in the Albany Evening Journal, bore witness to his insatiable curiosity. 

In 1834, he was nominated as the Whig candidate for Governor of New York, but he lost the election to the incumbent Democrat William Marcy.

From 1836 to 1838, Seward served as agent for a group of investors who had purchased the more than 3-million-acre western New York holdings of the Holland Land Company.   He moved the land office from Mayville, New York to Westfield, where he was successful in easing tensions between the investors and local landowners. 

Gubernatorial Portrait
On July 16, 1837, he delivered to the students and faculty of the newly formed Westfield Academy a Discourse on Education, in which he advocated for universal education.

In 1838, Seward again challenged Marcy, and this time was elected Governor of New York. He was narrowly re-elected to a second two-year term in 1840. As a state senator and governor, Seward promoted progressive political policies including prison reform and increased spending on education. He supported state funding for schools for immigrants operated by their own clergy and taught in their native language. This support, which included Catholic parochial schools, came back to haunt him in the 1850s, when anti-Catholic feelings were high, especially among ex-Whigs in the Republican Party.


Seward's eldest son, Augustus Henry, graduated from West Point, pursued a career in the army, and spent much of his life in the West in the paymaster corps. He rose to the rank of major.
Augustus Seward
Their last child, Frances "Fanny" Adeline, was born December 9, 1844. She was sprightly and affectionate, a bond of union in the family. She wanted to be a writer, and from the age of fourteen she kept a detailed diary which recorded both Auburn and political Washington life.


Seward with William Jr. and Fanny

Fanny and Seward
In 1846 Seward became the center of controversy in his hometown when he defended, in two separate cases, convicts accused of murder. Henry Wyatt, a white man, was charged in the stabbing death of a fellow prison inmate.  William Freeman, of African American and Native American ancestry, was accused of breaking into a home and stabbing four people to death. 

In both cases the defendants were mentally ill and had been severely abused while in prison. Seward, having long been an advocate of prison reform and better treatment for the insane, sought to prevent both men from being executed by using a relatively new defense of insanity. In a case involving mental illness with heavy racial overtones Seward argued, "The color of the prisoner’s skin, and the form of his features, are not impressed upon the spiritual immortal mind which works beneath. In spite of human pride, he is still your brother, and mine, in form and color accepted and approved by his Father, and yours, and mine, and bears equally with us the proudest inheritance of our race—the image of our Maker. Hold him then to be a Man."  Later, Seward quoted Freeman’s brother-in-law, praising his eloquence: "They have made William Freeman what he is, a brute beast; they don’t make anything else of any of our people but brute beasts; but when we violate their laws, then they want to punish us as if we were men." 

Both men were convicted. Although Wyatt was executed, Freeman, whose conviction was reversed on Seward's successful appeal to the New York Supreme Court, died in his cell of tuberculosis.

Seward had no enthusiasm for the Mexican War (1846-1848), fearing that its outcome would increase slave territory and thus the political power of the slaveholders. He would counter this by the enactment of the Wilmot Proviso, which would prohibit slavery in any land acquired from Mexico, by giving free male Negroes suffrage, and by extending the same privilege to the foreigners who were flocking to America. These ideas appeared in some of his speeches.

Seward's son, Frederick. did well at Union College, graduating in 1849, and served as secretary to his father from 1849 to 1857. He worked as associate editor of the Albany Evening Journal edited by Thurlow Weed from 1851 to 1861. 

Seward was elected as U.S. Senator from New York as a Whig in 1849, and emerged as the leader of the anti-slavery "Conscience Whigs". Seward opposed the Compromise of 1850.   

Seward presented himself as an enemy of the Slave Power, the perceived conspiracy of southern slave owners to seize the government and defeat the progress of liberty for all people, regardless of race.  Seward believed that slavery was morally wrong, and said so many times, outraging Southerners. He acknowledged that slavery was legal under the Constitution, but denied that the Constitution recognized or protected slavery. He famously remarked in 1850 that "there is a higher law than the Constitution".  Gaining the nickname "Higher Law" Seward, he continued to argue this point of view over the next decade.

Interior of Seward's Auburn Home
Seward was an opponent of the Fugitive Slave Act, and he defended runaway slaves in court.    Seward’s wife. Frances, was deeply committed to the abolitionist movement.  Although supportive of her husband's political career, Frances Seward did not choose to move with him to Washington. Ongoing health problems, the care of her aging father and a general dislike for the responsibilities of being a politician's wife, kept her in Auburn.  In the 1850s, the Seward family opened their Auburn home as a safehouse to fugitive slaves. Seward’s frequent travel and political work suggest that it was Frances who played the more active role in Auburn abolitionist activities. In the excitement following the rescue and safe transport of fugitive slave William "Jerry" Henry in Syracuse on October 1, 1851, Frances wrote to her husband, "two fugitives have gone to Canada—one of them our acquaintance John."  

There are two areas of  the Seward House that are associated with Underground Railroad use; an oral history from the Sewards' granddaughter, Frances Messenger, recalls that Mrs. Seward referred to the area over the woodshed as her "dormitory."  Also, an 1891 newspaper article reports "it is said that the old kitchen was one of the most popular stations of the Underground Railroad, and that many a poor slave who fled by this route to Canada carried to his grave the remembrance of its warmth and cheer." 

Seward Kitchen
Having inherited money from both sides of their family, the Sewards used their personal wealth to support the abolition movement. They were financial backers of Frederick Douglass' North Star newspaper in Rochester.  On July 1, 1852, Frances wrote to her husband, "A man by the name of William Johnson will apply to you for assistance to purchase the freedom of his daughter. You will see that I have given him something by his book. I told him I thought you would give him more. He is very desirous that I should employ his daughter when he gets her which I have agreed to do conditionally if you approve."

In addition to Frances' work, there is an indication that William Seward, while a senator in Washington, D.C., worked with African American hotelkeeper, James Wormley, to transport fugitives to freedom. 


Harriet Tubman 
Sometime in the mid-1850s, Harriet Tubman met Seward and his wife.  Mrs. Seward provided a home for Tubman's favorite niece, Margaret, after Tubman helped her to escape from Maryland. In 1857, the Sewards provided a home for Tubman, to which she relocated her parents from St. Catherines. This home was later sold to her for a small sum, and became her base of operations when she was not on the road aiding fugitives from slavery, and speaking in support of the cause.  

Harriet Tubman's Home 
In 1854, the law firm of Miller & Seward merged with the New York firm, Blatchford & Clizbe, to form Blatchford, Seward & Griswold.  Seward was by nature extravagant, and his debts weighed heavily upon him.  Weed's advice and services, together with those of a wealthy New York lawyer and banker, Richard M. Blatchford, saved him from financial disaster, and once again he devoted himself to his law practice.

The Whig party now began fragmenting. It went to pieces after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in 1854, but not before the New York Whigs had renominated Seward for the United States Senate. He won reelection in 1855, despite the efforts of the conservative Whigs, the Democrats, and the newly formed, anti-foreigner Native American party.  Seward joined the Republican Party when the New York Whigs merged with the Anti-Nebraskans later the same year.  Seward did not seriously compete for the presidential nomination in 1856 (won by John Fremont), but sought and expected to receive the nomination in 1860. 

In October 1858, he delivered a speech in which he argued that the political and economic systems of North and South were incompatible, and that, due to this "irrepressible conflict," the inevitable "collision" of the two systems would eventually result in the nation becoming "either entirely a slave-holding nation, or entirely a free-labor nation." Like Abraham Lincoln, he believed slavery could and should be extinguished by long-run historical forces rather than by coercion or war.

In 1859, he was confident of gaining the Republican presidential nomination, and was advised by his political ally and friend Thurlow Weed that he would be better off avoiding political gatherings where his words might be misinterpreted.  Seward left the country for an eight-month tour of Europe that included a visit to Syria, where he acquired several Arabian horses. 

Abraham Lincoln
During that hiatus, his lesser-known rival Abraham Lincoln worked diligently to line up support in case Seward failed to win on the first ballot.  After returning to the United States, Seward gave a conciliatory, pro-Union Senate speech that reassured moderates but alienated some radical Republicans. Around the same time, his friend Horace Greeley turned against him, opposing Seward on the grounds that his radical reputation made him unelectable. 
Horace Greeley
When Lincoln won the nomination, Seward loyally supported him and made a long speaking tour of the West in the autumn of 1860.


Abraham Lincoln appointed Seward his Secretary of State in 1861.  During his first weekend in Washington, Lincoln asked Seward to look over his Inaugural Address. Salmon Chase, soon to be Treasury Secretary and a Seward antagonist, had been urging Lincoln to take a hard line with the South. But Seward thought that Lincoln’s bristling tone was all wrong. He compiled a six-page list of proposed revisions, including a section on the Dred Scott decision, in which the President deplored “the despotism of the few life officers composing the Court.” Lincoln accepted many of Seward’s changes, most important his elimination of the bellicose conclusion: “You can forbear the assault upon [the government], I can not shrink from the defense of it. With you, and not with me, is the solemn question of ‘Shall it be peace, or a sword?’ ” Seward urged Lincoln to conclude, instead, with “some words of affection,” of “calm and cheerful confidence.” Excising Lincoln’s last lines, he substituted his own:
"Although passion has strained our bonds of affection too hardly they must not, I am sure they will not be broken. The mystic chords which proceeding from so many battle fields and so many patriot graves pass through all the hearts and all the hearths in this broad continent of ours will yet again harmonize in their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angel of the nation."
Lincoln took the sentiment, stripped it of its orotundity, and produced one of the most stirring political statements in American history:
"Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
Lincolun's First Inauguration
Believing that secession was the work of a minority of radicals rather than what most Southerners wanted, Seward tried to find ways of arousing latent Southern loyalty to the Union, and at the same time provide a barrier to the extension of slavery. He offered three resolutions that Lincoln favored: 
  • an amendment forbidding any alteration of the Constitution that would allow Congress to interfere with slavery where it already existed, 
  • legislation granting jury trial to fugitive slaves, and 
  • a recommendation to the states that they repeal personal liberty laws that were in conflict with the Constitution. 
Only the first of these passed the national legislature. He also proposed building two transcontinental railroads, one north and one south, as a measure of reconciliation.

When his father was appointed Secretary of State, Frederick became assistant secretary of state, in charge of consular service. and then joined the editorial staff of the Albany Evening Journal.
Frederick Seward
William Henry Seward, Jr.had been educated at home. He became interested in finance and, in partnership with Clinton McDougall, opened a private bank in Auburn in 1861. He abandoned banking in order to fight in the Civil War, where he eventually rose to the rank of brigadier-general. After the war, he returned to banking and lived with his wife, Janet MacNeil (Watson) Seward, in the family homestead in Auburn.

William Henry Seward, Jr.
Seward’s triumph in foreign affairs was keeping European powers out of America’s Civil War.  Britain and France wanted the rebels’ cotton, but Seward threatened to make war if those countries recognised the Confederacy, and ultimately they did not. A stiff test arose in 1861 when a Union frigate stopped a British ship and captured two Confederate envoys found aboard. 

In November 1861, two Confederate agents, Mason and Slidell, were forcibly taken from a British steamer on the high seas by a Union warship. The English government demanded their return. Tempers rose high in both England and the Union, but Seward was determined to avoid war with Great Britain. He agreed to surrender the prisoners in a note that skillfully emphasized the consistency of this action with a policy regarding seizures on the high seas for which the United States had long contended. The surrender of Mason and Slidell to the British government, Seward declared, was in accordance with fundamental American principles. A treaty that Seward negotiated in 1862 with Lord Lyons, British minister to the United States, provided agreement as to the right of search on the high seas, and set forth strong measures by which the United States and Great Britain agreed to enforce an end to the Atlantic slave trade.

Between 1861 and 1865, Seward's attitude toward Lincoln in part remained the same, and in part changed markedly in character. While from the first he gave the President tactful advice about social procedures, he harbored a feeling of bitterness over his rejection at Chicago and a belief that this "Illinois lawyer" was not competent to handle the great burdens of the Presidency. Seward believed that he himself would have to be the real head of state, originating policies and formulating plans of action.  This attitude made him a problem to the President, one that Lincoln tactfully but firmly set right. Once it became clear to Seward that the great decisions as to foreign policy were to be made at the White House, the two men began to work in harmony. Their personal relationship became close and friendly. Lincoln developed great respect for Seward's skill in carrying on diplomatic relations, and valued him as a balance between the radical and conservative elements in the Republican party. 

Mary Todd Lincoln told her husband that she hated to see him “let that hypocrite, Seward, twine you around his finger as if you were a skein of thread.” In September, 1861, a group of New Yorkers warned Lincoln about Seward’s drinking and smoking, a charge that Lincoln waved aside. A year later, a delegation of Radical Republicans from New York went to Washington with ostensible evidence of Seward’s leniency toward Southern “traitors.” Lincoln retorted, “It is plain enough what you want. You want to get Seward out of the cabinet.” He said that every one of them would be content to see the country ruined “if you could turn out Seward.”


Seward was critical of the Emancipation Proclamation, fearing that it would promote a bloody servile insurrection and permanently embitter North-South relations. He did see value in fostering disaffection among slaves, promoting their use in the Northern military effort, and producing a favorable reaction abroad to the Union cause. His acceptance of the Proclamation was grudging, however, for he believed that a Northern victory would inevitably mean the end of slavery. He finally did accept it, though he grumbled to his friends.

Despite his endorsement of expansionist policies, Seward strongly advocated non-interventionism.  After Tsar Alexander II put down the 1863 January Uprising in Poland,  French Emperor Napoleon III asked the United States to "join in a protest to the Tsar." Seward declined, "defending our policy of non-intervention - straight, absolute, and peculiar as it may seem to other nations,'" and insisted that "[t]he American people must be content to recommend the cause of human progress by the wisdom with which they should exercise the powers of self-government, forbearing at all times, and in every way, from foreign alliances, intervention, and interference." 

On April 5th, 1865, Seward embarked with several members of his family to meet Lincoln near Richmond, where the prospect of serious peace talks beckoned. Not far from home, the door to the carriage flew open, and when the driver dismounted to secure it the horses bolted. Seward leaped out, attempting to grab the reins. Instead, he fell and was carried back to his house unconscious. He had fractured his lower jaw and his right arm, and the doctor considered his condition “perilous in the extreme.”

Seward Carriage in which injury occurred
When Lincoln returned from Virginia on the evening of Robert E. Lee’s official surrender, April 9, 1865, he went directly to visit Seward, who was recuperating at home in bed.  Frederick recalled that “the gas-lights were turned down low, and the house was still, every one moving softly, and speaking in whispers.” Lincoln sat down on the bed. Seward, his face wrapped in bandages, whispered, “ ‘You are back from Richmond?’ ‘Yes,’ said Lincoln, ‘and I think we are near the end at last.’ "

Frederick recounted how the President, “leaning his tall form across the bed, and resting on his elbow,” lay down beside Seward. Lincoln talked about visiting a Union hospital earlier that day and shaking the hands of hundreds of patients. “He spoke of having worked as hard at it as sawing wood,” Fanny recorded in her diary, “and seemed, in his goodness of heart, much satisfied at the labor.”


Seward's Home in Washington, D.C.
On the night of April 14, 1865, Lewis Powell (aka Lewis Paine or Payne) an associate and co-conspirator of John Wilkes booth, attempted to assassinate Seward at his Washington, D.C. home.  

Powell's attack on Seward was coordinated with Booth's attack on President Lincoln and an attack on Vice President Andrew Johnson in order to maximize the element of surprise and to sever the continuity of the United States government. 

Powell was able to gain access to the Seward home by telling the butler that he was delivering medicine for Seward.  Upon entry to the home, Powell began climbing up the stairs, but was stopped at the top by Frederick, Seward's eldest son.  
Illustration of Frederick Seward
struggling with Lewis Powell
Frederick told Powell that his father was asleep and that he, Frederick, would take the medicine to him.  Powell turned around and began descending the stairs, but then suddenly swung back,  drew a pistol, and pointed it at Frederick's head. When the pistol misfired, Powell began beating Frederick over the head with the barrel of the gun. The force of the blows left Frederick sprawled on the floor in a pool of blood. 

Frederick Seward
Seward's daughter, Fanny, was in his bedroom with him, and heard the noise coming from the second floor hallway.  She opened the door to see her brother on the floor and Powell charging toward her, a dagger in his hand.  Powell threw Fanny aside and jumped on  Sewards bed, repeatedly stabbing him in the face and neck area.  Powell also attacked and injured another son, Augustus, and a soldier/nurse, Sgt. George Robinson.  


Powell, convinced that he had mortally wounded Seward, fled down the stairs.  He stabbed a messenger, Emerick Hansell, who arrived just as Powell was escaping; Hansell was rendered permanently paralyzed from the stabbing.  Frederick was in a coma for several days. 

Frances Seward
All five men that were injured that night survived, although Seward would carry facial scars from the attack for the rest of his life. The events of that night also took their toll on his wife, Frances, whose health rapidly declined after the attack.  She died two  months later, on June 21, 1865, at the age of 59. 


Although it took Seward several months to recover from his wounds, he emerged as a major force in the administration of the new president, Andrew Johnson. He frequently defended his more moderate reconciliation policies towards the South, to the point of enraging Radical Republicans who had once regarded Seward as their ally.


Andrew Johnson
Seward's main objective was to bring the South back into the Union as quickly and harmoniously as possible.  Negro rights were important, Seward held, but in his view of the future they should be held as of secondary consideration. He held this point of view primarily because of his fixed belief that the Negro was basically inferior to the white man, and that establishing the Negro's place in society must inevitably be a slow and difficult procedure.  Seward's views on reconstruction earned him the hatred of those radical reconstructionists who believed that the rebellious states should be kept under a firm hand. They also aroused the fear and dislike of those who were deeply interested in the immediate improvement of the Negro's place in the nation's social order.

Ulysses S. Grant
In the fall of 1866, Seward joined Johnson, as well as Ulysses S. Grant and George Armstrong Custer, along with several other administration figures, on the president's ill-fated "Swing Around the Circle" campaign trip.  


George Armstrong Custer
At one point Seward became so ill, probably from cholera, that he was sent back to Washington in a special car. Both Johnson and Grant, as well as several members of the Seward family, thought the Secretary was near death. Seward surprised many by making a recovery.


Fanny Seward
Seward's daughter, Fanny, died of tuberculosis in October 1866, at the age of 22.  Devastated, badly scarred, and noticeably aged, Seward nevertheless continued as Secretary of State. 



Seward's most famous achievement as Secretary of State was his successful acquisition of Alaska from Russia. On March 30, 1867, he completed negotiations for the territory, which involved the purchase of 586,412 square miles of territory (more than twice the area of Texas) for $7,200,000, or approximately two cents per acre (equivalent to $118 million in today's dollars). The purchase was variously mocked by the public as Seward's Folly, "Seward's Icebox," and Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden."  When asked what he considered to be his greatest achievement as Secretary of State, Seward replied "The purchase of Alaska—but it will take the people a generation to find it out."

Check for Purchase of Alaska
He began planning for the acquisition of Hawaii and the construction of the Panama canal, both of which later came to pass. He also wanted to buy British Columbia, which would have connected the rest of America to Alaska.

Seward's support for Andrew Johnson extended to behind the scenes scheming for the President's acquittal during his 1868 Impeachment trial.

Seward retired as Secretary of State after Ulysses Grant took office as president in 1869. He went back to Auburn, where he spent two months disposing of his belongings, making plans for enlarging his old home, and answering scores of letters. There was usually whist in the evening, a game of which he was passionately fond. 

There was also another interest, one that caused his family increasing anxiety: a young girl by the name of Olive Risley.  Her father, Hanson Risley, was an old-time Whig and Republican whom Seward had come to know in 1835 when he had been in Westfield attending to the affairs of the Holland Land Company. Risley had two daughters, Olive and Hattie. Olive was now in her middle twenties, just about the age Fanny Seward would have been had she not died of tuberculosis in 1866. Seward had been deeply attached to Fanny.  
Olive Risley was a mildly pretty girl of no more than average mentality. Seward found her interesting, and Olive devoted herself to pleasing her famous admirer. He believed that her mind was capable of real development, and seems to have regarded her as a substitute for the daughter he had lost. He heaped favors upon her, which she received with much appreciation. The relationship was soon noticed. The gossips of Auburn observed that he took her driving in his carriage. They were seen together almost daily, and the rumor spread that they were going to be married.

Olive Risley
Seward was restless; his physical vigor was weakening, but he still had much of his old zest for life, and his love of travel remained undiminished. He decided to take a trip to the west coast of the country, visiting both Alaska and Mexico. Frederick and Anna, his son and daughter-in-law, accompanied him.  He invited the Risleys to join the party, but Risley turned down the invitation, a decision that greatly disappointed both Olive and Seward. 

The trip went very well: Seward spoke at various places. In his speech at Sitka, he praised Alaska's scenery and its resources, and predicted that it would become one of the states in the Union. The party spent over two months in Mexico and several weeks in Havana before returning to Auburn.

The paralysis that made his right arm and hand nearly useless was now appearing on his left side. He had lost his old exuberant vivacity, but his love of travel remained. In August 1870, he started on a trip around the world with a party of six, including Olive Risley and her younger sister, Harriet. Gradually the party diminished to Seward and the two girls, and to stop the tongues of gossip, Seward adopted Olive as his daughter. 

Their journey took them from Japan and China, via India and Egypt, to Paris and London. They reached New York on October 1871, and then went directly to Auburn. They had been met and entertained by various notables during the long journey. Seward calculated that he had traveled 44,000 miles, an average of over 100 miles a day.

Seward had grown physically weaker during the trip, and before it ended he had two personal servants in attendance. But he now began work on his autobiography, which he had carried down to the New York state election of 1834. Then, working with Olive's help as editor, he began William H. Seward's Travels Around the World. It was published in 1873, a massive volume of 720 pages that sold over 60,000 copies.


On October 10, 1872, Seward died in his home office in Auburn, New York, after having difficulty breathing. He was 71 years old.

Seward Family Graves
There was a quiet funeral.  He was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, with his wife and two of their children, Cornelia and Fanny.

Seward's Grave
His son, Frederick, edited Seward's memoirs and letters and published them in three volumes in 1877.

Olive Risley Seward and Seward's three surviving sons were named joint heirs of the Seward estate.  Seward left the Auburn home to his son, William Seward, Jr.; it passed on to his grandson, William Henry Seward III, in 1920. At his death in 1951, it became a museum that opened to the public in 1955.

A statue of Seward is located in Madison Square Park in New York City, New York.



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