Born May 16, 1801 Florida, New York Died October 10, 1872 Auburn, New York
Secretary of state in the Lincoln and Johnson administrations
William Henry Seward was an important political figure throughout the Civil War era. In the 1840s and 1850s, he became known as one of America's leading advocates of abolitionism (the movement to end slavery). During the war, he joined the administration of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865; see entry) as secretary of state and became one of the president's most trusted advisors. Seward remained in his position as secretary of state through the first years of Reconstruction (the period from 1865 to 1877 during which the Southern states were rebuilt and rejoined the United States) as well. During this period, Seward supported President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875; see entry) and his generous policies toward the South and negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.
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