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Seward, William

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Definition: Seward, William Henry from

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

, William Henry 1801–1872.


American politician who as US secretary of state (1861–1869) arranged the purchase of Alaska from Russia (1867), a transaction that critics called “Seward's Folly.”

Summary Article: Seward, William Henry from The Columbia Encyclopedia
Seward, William Henry, 1801-72, American statesman, b. Florida, Orange co., N.Y. Early Career A graduate (1820) of Union College, he was admitted to the bar in 1822 and established himself as a lawyer in Auburn, N.Y., which he made his lifelong home. He was active in the Anti-Masonic party and later (1834) he and his close personal and political friend, Thurlow Weed were founding members of the Whig party and the most influential Whigs in New York state. A state senator from 1830 to 1834, he ran unsuccessfully for the governorship in 1834. In 1838, however, he won that office, and he was reelected in 1840. As governor, Seward worked for educational reforms and internal improvements; he also secured legislation to better the position of immigrants and to protect fugitive slaves. He returned to his law practice in 1843. Sena...    Continue Reading
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