William Seward (1801-1872) was a politician who served as governor of New York, as a U.S. senator and as secretary of state during the Civil War (1861-65). Seward spent his early career as a lawyer before winning a seat in the New York State Senate in 1830. An ardent abolitionist, Seward later served as New York’s 12th governor and then as a member of the U.S. Senate, where he established himself as a leading antislavery activist. After failing in an 1860 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Seward was appointed secretary of state in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. He would eventually become one of Lincoln’s closest advisers during the Civil War, helping to ensure that Europe did not recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation. Seward continued to serve as secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson and in 1867 negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians. He died in 1872 at the age of 71.