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William Henry Seward
New York

Gov. William Henry Seward

  • January 1, 1839 - January 1, 1843
  • Whig
  • May 16, 1801
  • October 10, 1872
  • New York
  • Union College
  • Married Frances A. Miller; five children
  • Senator, Cabinet secretary


WILLIAM H. SEWARD, the fourteenth governor of New York, was born in Florida, New York on May 16, 1801. His education was attained at Union College, where he graduated in 1820. He went on to study law, and in 1822 was admitted to the bar. After establishing his legal career, Seward entered into politics. He first served as a member of the New York State Senate, a position he held from 1830 to 1834. After an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1834, Seward was elected governor on November 7, 1838. He won reelection to a second term in 1840. During his tenure, the elimination of capital punishment was lobbied for; educational and prison reform measures were promoted; and the abolition of slavery was supported. After leaving the governorship, Seward was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1849 to 1861. In 1860 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. During the administrations of President Lincoln and President Andrew Johnson, Seward served as secretary of state. On the same night that President Lincoln was assassinated, Secretary Seward was viciously stabbed in his Washington home. He recovered from his injuries, and went on to complete his term as secretary of state (1861 to 1869). Governor William H. Seward passed away on October 10, 1872, and was buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 3, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress


Seward House

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