Seward, William H., 1801-1872 : William Henry Seward was born 16 May 1801 at Florida, New York. He graduated from Union College with high honors in 1820, and began practicing law in 1823. Seward entered politics by serving in the state senate from 1830 to 1834, wherein he established himself as a leader of the Whig party. He was elected governor of New York in 1838 and reelected in 1840, returning to private legal practice at the end of his second term. He reentered politics in 1849 when the state legislature choose him to represent New York in the U.S. Senate, where he served two terms lasting until 1861.
In 1860, Seward was the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. After losing on the third ballot to Abraham Lincoln, Seward campaigned actively for his rival. After the election, Lincoln chose Seward to be his Secretary of State. Seward was wounded by a would-be assassin on the same night that Lincoln was murdered. After his recovery, Seward remained as Secretary of State in the administration of Andrew Johnson. Although Seward had been an anti-slavery Whig, then Republican, he supported Johnson's lenient plan of Reconstruction against that of the Radical Republicans. He negotiated the annexation of the Midway Islands and the purchase of Alaska, both in 1867. He retired from politics at the end of Johnson's term in March 1869. He died 10 October 1872 at Auburn, New York.