SEWARD, WILLIAM HENRY, American statesman, was born at Florida, N. Y., May 16, 1801, of Welsh and Irish descent. His father was a physician and merchant, who, after accumulating a moderate fortune, was appointed judge of one of the inferior courts. Seward entered Union college at 15; in 1819 he visited the south, and was engaged for six months as a school-teacher in Georgia. Called to the bar in 1822, he settledtat Auburn, western New York, and became the partner and son-in-law of judge Miller. In 1825 his political abilities were manifested in-an oration delivered at Syra cuse, and in 1828 he was chosen president of a state convention. At this period New York was the center of a wide-spread excitement against free-masons, and Seward as a • leading anti-mason, was elected to the state senate. In 1833 he visited Europe, and wrote a series of letters, which were published in the Albany Evening Journal. In 1834, he was a candidate for the office of governor of New York, but was defeated by the demo cratic candidate. About this time he received the lucrative appointment of agent of the Holland Land company, which gave him wealth and influence. In 1838 he was elected governor of New York. In this position he recommended the increase of education. inter nal improvements,a liberal policy toward foreign immigrants,and took the side of abolition in the growing controversies on slavery. In 1849 he was elected to the senate of the United States, where he became the acknowledged leader of his party, and in the debate on the admission of California he promulgated what was called his " higher-law" doctrine, in saying that there was " a higher law than the constitution which regulated the authority of congress over the national domain—the law of God, and the interests of humanity." In a speech at Rochester, N. Y., in 1853, he declared that there was " an irrepressible confliot betwein opposing and enduring forces," and that " the United States must become either entirely slave or entirely free." In 1859 he revisited Europe. and extended his tour to
Egypt and the Holy Land, and in 1860 was the most prominent candidate of the repub beau party for nomination for the presidency; but personal and local interests finally secured the election of Abraham Lincoln, while Mr. Sewaid accepted the important post of secretary of state, in widen he guided the cliploniall of the federal government through the perils of the war of secession with an almost unparalleled industry, energy, and success. On the 14th of April, 1865, as the war approached its termination, and NI bile Seward was confined to his room by a fall from his carriage, president Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, an actor at a theater Washington. At the same time another assassin named Paine, penetrated to the room of Mr. Seward, dan gerously wounded his son, and with a poniard inflicted wounds upon him which were at first believed to be fatal, but from which he slowly recovered, and continued in office as secretary of state for foreign affairs, throughout the presidency of Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, when he conducted the negotiations by which the United States pur chased from Russia those territories in North America which are now called Alaska. Seward resigned his office in 1869, on the accession of president Grant. In the autumn of 1871, he went on a foreign tour through southern Europe, Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, India, China and Japan, and was everywhere received with much distinction. Seward published speeches and orations in 4 vols., a Life of John Quincy Adams and a Lafe of DeWitt Clinton. He died in October, 1872.