William H. Seward's personal and public papers are the focus of this collection, which provides fresh insight into 19th-century American history and politics through the study of this distinguished statesman's documents.
As reformer, orator, lawyer, governor, senator and secretary of state, Seward occupied a significant position in shaping U.S. domestic and foreign policies. His unpopular view that slavery was a political and moral evil brought him into conflict with other political leaders, including President Lincoln. Yet, as Secretary of State, Seward proved himself an able diplomat, maintaining smooth foreign relations during the Civil War without antagonizing the American public. Finally, as a confirmed expansionist, Seward was largely responsible for the purchase of Arctic territory decisively known as "Seward's Icebox"--later known as the State of Alaska.
William Henry Seward III, a grandson, presented Secretary of State Seward's papers to the University of Rochester between 1945 and 1951. The collection was organized and indexed between 1951 and 1963 and has provided primary source material for books, doctoral dissertations, master's theses and scholarly articles. Approximately 150,000 items make up the collection including: