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  • William Seward

    I figured that we needed another question to sink our teeth into, so here it is...

    Was William Seward the greatest Secretary of State in United States History? Why or why not? (I figured this would be ok to post in the Civil War section)

    If no, who should be given this honor?
    Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

  • #2
    Originally posted by Lweber1978 View Post
    I figured that we needed another question to sink our teeth into, so here it is...

    Was William Seward the greatest Secretary of State in United States History? Why or why not? (I figured this would be ok to post in the Civil War section)

    If no, who should be given this honor?
    Given how important that he was in the aquisition of Alaska from the Russians at a price of a few pennies an acre, I'd say that he was among the greatest Secretaries of State.
    "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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    • #3
      Thanks for the post JohnBryan. I wish more members would post their thoughts on this question!
      Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lweber1978 View Post
        Thanks for the post JohnBryan. I wish more members would post their thoughts on this question!
        The 1868 Purchase was derisively called "Seward's Icebox" by the major media newspaper outlets of the time. Unfortunately, they had no idea of the immense amounts of gold, lumber and oil reserves that lay within its soil.
        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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        • #5
          Seward should get credit for his work with Alaska and prying the funds for it out of a reluctant congress.

          Greatest though? Nope, the honor there IMO goes to General Marshall hands down, no question.

          Regards,
          Dennis
          If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

          Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
            The 1868 Purchase was derisively called "Seward's Icebox" by the major media newspaper outlets of the time. Unfortunately, they had no idea of the immense amounts of gold, lumber and oil reserves that lay within its soil.
            I haven't checked on this but didn't Seward have a chance to buy part of Siberia as well? Was it Seward or congress that passed on it?
            "Put guards on all the roads, and don't let the men run to the rear."
            Major General John Buford's final words on his deathbed.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Widow Maker View Post
              I haven't checked on this but didn't Seward have a chance to buy part of Siberia as well? Was it Seward or congress that passed on it?
              When I looked this up on the Loc.gov website, I found no evidence of a potential purchase of Siberia. What I found was this:

              On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia for 7.2 million dollars. Critics attacked Seward for the secrecy surrounding the deal, which came to be known as "Seward's folly." The press mocked his willingness to spend so much on "Seward's icebox" and Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden."

              Under the aegis of explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering, Russia established a presence in Alaska in the early eighteenth century. Russia initially approached the United States about selling the territory during President James Buchanan's administration, but the Civil War stalled negotiations. Seward, secretary of state under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, supported American expansion and was eager to acquire Alaska. However, convincing skeptics that Alaska was an important addition to the United States was a challenge. Thanks to strong support by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate approved the treaty by a vote of 37-2 on April 9, 1867. Nonetheless, the appropriation of money needed to purchase Alaska was delayed by more than a year due to opposition in the House of Representatives. The House finally approved the appropriation on July 14, 1868, by a vote of 113-48.

              Nevertheless, I'll keep searching to see if I can find more.
              Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Lweber1978 View Post
                When I looked this up on the Loc.gov website, I found no evidence of a potential purchase of Siberia. What I found was this:

                On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia for 7.2 million dollars. Critics attacked Seward for the secrecy surrounding the deal, which came to be known as "Seward's folly." The press mocked his willingness to spend so much on "Seward's icebox" and Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden."

                Under the aegis of explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering, Russia established a presence in Alaska in the early eighteenth century. Russia initially approached the United States about selling the territory during President James Buchanan's administration, but the Civil War stalled negotiations. Seward, secretary of state under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, supported American expansion and was eager to acquire Alaska. However, convincing skeptics that Alaska was an important addition to the United States was a challenge. Thanks to strong support by Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate approved the treaty by a vote of 37-2 on April 9, 1867. Nonetheless, the appropriation of money needed to purchase Alaska was delayed by more than a year due to opposition in the House of Representatives. The House finally approved the appropriation on July 14, 1868, by a vote of 113-48.

                Nevertheless, I'll keep searching to see if I can find more.
                I remember reading about the Crimean War sometime back, and that Russia was in need of cash after that war. Here is a pretty good link I think about the Alaska Purchase. It talks about how Great Britain had interest in purchasing Alaska, but that Russia didn't want to sell it to them since they had fought against them in the Crimean War. I also thought I had read something about whoever controls Alaska, controls the world or something along those lines.

                On a side note, my dad was stationed in Alaska a couple of times, and as I recall the town of Seward has excellent Halibut fishing.

                http://international.loc.gov/intldl/.../mfaksale.html


                "You don't have to call me Waylon Jennings.
                And you don't have to call me Charlie Pride.
                And you don't have to call me Merle Haggard anymore,
                Even though you're on my fightin' side.

                And I'll hang around as long as you will let me.
                And I never minded standing in the rain.
                But you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'.
                You never even called me by my name." 'You Never Even Called Me By Name'

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=Sgt. Rock;816416]I remember reading about the Crimean War sometime back, and that Russia was in need of cash after that war. Here is a pretty good link I think about the Alaska Purchase. It talks about how Great Britain had interest in purchasing Alaska, but that Russia didn't want to sell it to them since they had fought against them in the Crimean War. I also thought I had read something about whoever controls Alaska, controls the world or something along those lines.

                  On a side note, my dad was stationed in Alaska a couple of times, and as I recall the town of Seward has excellent Halibut fishing.

                  http://international.loc.gov/intldl/.../mfaksale.html


                  Good link Sgt. Rock, thanks for the post. By the way, would you rank Seward in the category of greats?
                  PS next time I am in Alaska, I will try to get to Seward and try the Halibut
                  Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lweber1978 View Post
                    I figured that we needed another question to sink our teeth into, so here it is...

                    Was William Seward the greatest Secretary of State in United States History? Why or why not? (I figured this would be ok to post in the Civil War section)

                    If no, who should be given this honor?
                    Originally posted by Lweber1978 View Post
                    I figured that we needed another question to sink our teeth into, so here it is...

                    Was William Seward the greatest Secretary of State in United States History? Why or why not? (I figured this would be ok to post in the Civil War section)

                    If no, who should be given this honor?
                    An original thread! Great question Lweber!

                    Seward seems to be one those historical individuals overshadowed by the "Giants" of his time. Politically, the focus became Lincoln/Johnson vs The Black Republicans. While viewed as an major player during his time, his impact has faded with the years. This from:
                    UNITED STATES HISTORY
                    K.Pray, W. Rocheleau. Editor: C Sylvester.
                    Robertson Pub. Co 1909

                    Johnson...had spoken rashly concerning the proper way to treat the rebels at the close of the war, and had expressed as his conviction that “traitors should be arrested, tried, convicted and hanged.” There was the best of reason, therefore, for the general belief that his policy would be revengeful and irritating, rather than conciliatory: but he presently came under the influence of Sec. Of State Seward, a lover of peace and an advocate of Lincoln’s reconstruction. The transformation in Johnson’s views was almost miraculous. Though he had been one of the most radical anti-Southerners......On May 29, 1865, he issued a proclamation of amnesty and pardon to all who had not availed themselves of the rights proclaimed by Lincoln...

                    The authors of this text also went to great lengths to report the continuing impact of Seward upon the battle between the Executive (which he favored) and Congress over which should shoulder the burden and prerogative of Reconstruction. His influence and support of Johnson's position put him directly in the crosshairs of a defiant and powerful Congress. This professional courage during such a diffucult time, (War, multiple foreign intrigues, reconstruction, impeachment trial, Alaskan Purchase) must allow him at least a mention on any list of influential Sec. of States.
                    My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by D1J1 View Post
                      Seward should get credit for his work with Alaska and prying the funds for it out of a reluctant congress.

                      Greatest though? Nope, the honor there IMO goes to General Marshall hands down, no question.

                      Regards,
                      Dennis
                      Gen Marshall is also my #1. Seward wouldn't get my #2. Thomas Jefferson would get that place I believe.

                      HP
                      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                      you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Half Pint View Post
                        Gen Marshall is also my #1. Seward wouldn't get my #2. Thomas Jefferson would get that place I believe.

                        HP
                        Ouch HP, got so involved with Seward, I forgot to vote.

                        I agree with your people. I always have trouble rating historical people. I'm more comfortable with "Top Five". Great Men...Great Times argument.

                        You've named 3. I'd add Henry Kissenger to the group. Like his politics or not, he was a major player in both American and International policies for a long dangerous time in History.
                        My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by holly6 View Post
                          Ouch HP, got so involved with Seward, I forgot to vote.

                          I agree with your people. I always have trouble rating historical people. I'm more comfortable with "Top Five". Great Men...Great Times argument.

                          You've named 3. I'd add Henry Kissenger to the group. Like his politics or not, he was a major player in both American and International policies for a long dangerous time in History.

                          OH yea, he was indeed a major player. I just didn't like the game he played. IIRC he made a couple of very uncomplementary remarks about soliders a year or so ago. Henery isn't a friend of mine. Not now and not in 70.

                          HP
                          "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                          Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                          you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Half Pint View Post
                            OH yea, he was indeed a major player. I just didn't like the game he played. IIRC he made a couple of very uncomplementary remarks about soliders a year or so ago. Henery isn't a friend of mine. Not now and not in 70.

                            HP
                            My point from my last two posts. Should have tied them together. Henry's heyday was c. 30-40 years ago. The same length of time between the war and reconstruction and the publish date of the book I cited.

                            Born in 1950, Henry's policies had a direct effect on my life. As such, I must work hard to divorce myself of personal interest to look at him historically. By 1906, the Lincoln Myth was in full spin. A tough-minded politician was raised to near deity and his close advisors likewise.
                            Kissinger's long run is clouded by the lack of praise for the Administrations he served. i.e. only recently has "Nixon in China" been discussed as an issue separate from Watergate. Henry's name is beginning to creep positively into discussions regarding past M.E. policies.

                            The old quote from Lord Byron seems apt: "Glory.......depends more upon an Historian's style, then on the name a man leaves behind".

                            50 years from now, when all of us that dislike him personally are dust, I suspect his legacy will be something much different than today.
                            My Avatar: Ivan W. Henderson Gunner/navigator B-25-26. 117 combat missions. Both Theaters. 11 confirmed kills. DSC.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by holly6 View Post
                              An original thread! Great question Lweber!

                              Seward seems to be one those historical individuals overshadowed by the "Giants" of his time. Politically, the focus became Lincoln/Johnson vs The Black Republicans. While viewed as an major player during his time, his impact has faded with the years. This from:
                              UNITED STATES HISTORY
                              K.Pray, W. Rocheleau. Editor: C Sylvester.
                              Robertson Pub. Co 1909

                              Johnson...had spoken rashly concerning the proper way to treat the rebels at the close of the war, and had expressed as his conviction that “traitors should be arrested, tried, convicted and hanged.” There was the best of reason, therefore, for the general belief that his policy would be revengeful and irritating, rather than conciliatory: but he presently came under the influence of Sec. Of State Seward, a lover of peace and an advocate of Lincoln’s reconstruction. The transformation in Johnson’s views was almost miraculous. Though he had been one of the most radical anti-Southerners......On May 29, 1865, he issued a proclamation of amnesty and pardon to all who had not availed themselves of the rights proclaimed by Lincoln...

                              The authors of this text also went to great lengths to report the continuing impact of Seward upon the battle between the Executive (which he favored) and Congress over which should shoulder the burden and prerogative of Reconstruction. His influence and support of Johnson's position put him directly in the crosshairs of a defiant and powerful Congress. This professional courage during such a diffucult time, (War, multiple foreign intrigues, reconstruction, impeachment trial, Alaskan Purchase) must allow him at least a mention on any list of influential Sec. of States.
                              Hey thanks Holly, I know how you feel about having an original thread to discuss!

                              I think that Seward should be up somewhere in the top 3-5 of all time since he was Lincoln's closest advisor and he seemed to have had a hand in many of Lincoln's greatest achievements. The book Team of Rivals really opened up my eyes to him, and then I took a visit up to his home in Auburn NY (great place). Over the past few years I have developed a tremendous admiration for William Seward, and while he was not perfect, I do think that he was a man of courage and conviction who helped to change the country for the better during one of our most important moments. Of course much is said about Seward's Folly, but I think that it is rather unfortunate that he often gets overshadowed by some of the historical "giants" of the Civil War Era (I think he was one of the historical "giants" of the era). I think that he is under-appreciated/under-recognized. For me he is a fascinating individual. Thanks for the post.
                              Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

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