William Seward's political career began in 1830, when he joined Thurlow Weed's political machine as a state senator in Albany, New York. From 1838 until 1842, he served as governor but then stepped aside, in part because his growing opposition to slavery had become a political liability.
By 1848 Seward had entered the Senate, where he opposed Henry Clay's compromise measures of 1850, supported admission of California as a free state, voiced strong opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, and argued against the extension of slavery into the territories. After Winfield Scott's defeat in the presidential campaign of 1852, Seward shifted his alliances to the emerging Republican Party, supporting John C. Frémont in 1856. When he failed to win the Republican nomination for President in 1860, Seward campaigned actively for Lincoln and became his secretary of state. An able and successful diplomat, Seward deterred European entry in the Civil War, opposed French intervention in Mexico, and in 1867, under Andrew Johnson, negotiated the Russian treaty for the sale of the Alaska territory.
William Seward
1801 - 1872
Mathew Brady Studio
Albumen silver print
(carte de visite), circa 1860
8.6 x 5.3 cm ( 3 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches)
National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C.