Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln
Continued in office under President Andrew Johnson
William Henry Seward was born in the hamlet of Florida, Orange County, New York, on May 16, 1801. Samuel Sweezy Seward, Henry's father, was of Anglo-Welsh descent, whereas Henry's mother, Mary Jennings Seward, was of Irish descent. Samuel Seward was a doctor, merchant, and land speculator who invested his money shrewdly, so at his death in 1849, he left his family over $300,000. Mary was a kind person and loved by her family and neighbors. A few years before her death in 1843, William Seward responded to a letter written by a man who had disagreed with Seward's defense of the Irish in the United States. Seward defended the character of Irish Americans and said he could do no other without dishonoring his mother.
With the strong support of his father, Seward received the best schooling in Orange County and at the age of 15 entered Union College in Schenectady, New York, graduating in July 1820. Seward had begun to read law in 1819 and was admitted to the New York bar in October 1822. Early in 1823, Seward became a law partner of Judge Elijah Miller in Auburn, county seat of Cayuga County. Seward married Frances Adeline Miller, the daughter of his law partner, on October 20, 1824. In the late summer of 1823, while traveling through Rochester, New York, Seward met Thurlow Weed, then editor of a local newspaper. Their political partnership did not begin until late 1827, but once established, it was the cornerstone of Seward's career until the complete triumph of the Radical Republicans in New York State in 1866.
Seward was attracted to politics early. Politics in the 1820s were confused and largely built on personalism and factionalism. Seward condemned the Federalists for their carping during the War of 1812 and did not support DeWitt Clinton for president in 1812. During the early 1820s Seward supported Martin Van Buren, who was building up his political machine, the Albany Regency. Yet in 1824, Seward supported John Quincy Adams for president and DeWitt Clinton for gov-ernor. The reasons for this shift are not plain. Seward denounced the corruption of