William Henry Seward was born in Florida, New York. He was admitted to the Bar (recognized as a lawyer) in Utica, 1822. He was elected to the Senate (1830) and became Governor of New York (1838).
During the mid 1800's he came to be outspoken in terms of the antislavery cause and a prominent member of the Republican Party. Democrats held Seward responsible for John Brown's Harper's Ferry Raid as Seward had made a speech known as his 'irrepressable conflict' oratory just before this raid took place.
Seward served as Secretary of State under Lincoln. This brought him to the fore in terms of international issues which included the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Democrats called this purchase "Seward's Folly".
Hopkins, Daniel J. (ed) - Webster's New Biographical Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster: 1988, p. 906
Parry, Melanie (ed) - Chambers Biographical Dictionary: Centenary Edition. Edinburgh: Chambers: 1997, p. 1676