Seward, Anna, 1742-1809, English poet, called the Swan of Lichfield. A member of the Lichfield literary group, which included Thomas Day and Erasmus Darwin, she was acquainted also with Dr. Johnson and James Boswell. She bequeathed her literary works to Sir Walter Scott, who edited them (3 vol., 1810).

See selected letters, with short biography (ed. by H. Pearson, 1936).

Seward, William Henry, 1801-72, American statesman, b. Florida, Orange co., N.Y.

Early Career

A graduate (1820) of Union College, he was admitted to the bar in 1822 and established himself as a lawyer in Auburn, N.Y., which he made his lifelong home. He was active in the Anti-Masonic party and later joined the Whig party. Seward and his close personal and political friend, Thurlow Weed, became the two most influential Whigs in New York state. A state senator from 1830 to 1834, he ran unsuccessfully for the governorship in 1834. In 1838, however, he won that office, and he was reelected in 1840. As governor, Seward worked for educational reforms and internal improvements; he also secured legislation to better the position of immigrants and to protect fugitive slaves. He returned to his law practice in 1843.


Seward was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1849. Reelected in 1855, he was one of the Senate's most prominent members in the troubled years preceding the Civil War. A genial, gregarious man with intellectual interests, he was generally well liked, even by his political opponents.

Seward was an uncompromising foe of slavery, and, although he apparently tempered his public expressions so as not to alienate votes, he nevertheless made two remarks that became catchphrases of the antislavery forces. Voicing his opposition to the Compromise of 1850 in the Senate, he said (Mar. 11, 1850), "there is a higher law than the Constitution which regulates our authority over the domain." In a speech at Rochester on Oct. 25, 1858, he declared that there would exist "an irrepressible conflict" until the United States became either all slave or all free.

With the disintegration of the Whig party, Seward and Weed joined (1855) the new Republican party. Prominent as he was, Seward, despite (or possibly because of) the efforts of Weed's machine, was never able to secure the Republican presidential nomination. His friendship toward immigrants, especially the Irish, alienated members of the former Know-Nothing movement within the Republican party.

Secretary of State

In 1861, Seward became Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln, and many expected him to be the real power in the administration. He revealed his own desire to dominate the President in a peculiar memorandum (Apr. 1, 1861) to Lincoln in which he proposed waging war against most of Europe so as to unite the nation. Seward also did some unwarranted meddling during the Fort Sumter crisis. After the Civil War broke out, however, he showed himself an able statesman, although it took all of Lincoln's ingenuity to keep both Seward and his rival, Salmon P. Chase, eternally ambitious for the presidency, in the same cabinet. Seward's handling of delicate matters of diplomacy with Great Britain, particularly in the Trent Affair, was notably adept. He also protested French intervention in Mexico and after the Civil War helped bring an end to it.

The plot of John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Lincoln also included a stabbing attack on Seward, but he recovered from his wounds and retained his cabinet position under the new President, Andrew Johnson. He supported Johnson's Reconstruction policy and, like the President, was roundly denounced by the radical Republicans. Seward's most important act in this administration was the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. His foresight was not generally acknowledged, however, and Alaska was long popularly called "Seward's folly." He also tried to purchase the two most important islands in the Danish West Indies (the Virgin Islands), but the Senate refused to approve his action.


See G. E. Baker, ed., The Works of William H. Seward (5 vol., 1853-84); F. W. Seward, ed., Autobiography … and Selections from His Letters (3 vol., 1891); biographies by F. Bancroft (1900, repr. 1967) and G. G. Van Deusen (1967).

Seward, city (1990 pop. 2,699), Kenai Peninsula borough, S Alaska, on Kenai Peninsula, at the head of Resurrection Bay; inc. 1912. It was founded in 1902 as the ocean terminus of the Alaska RR (built 1915-23). Its airfield and ice-free harbor make it an important shipping and supply center for the Alaskan interior. It is a coal terminal and cargo port, and there is fishing, lumbering, and seafood canning and freezing. Tourism also bolsters the city's economy. Seward was almost completely devastated by an earthquake in 1964 but has since been rebuilt. In the city are a Univ. of Alaska maritime research station and a ranger office for Chugach National Forest. An annual salmon derby is held, and a race up nearby Mt. Marathon every July 4th attracts athletes from a wide area.

Seward is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 3,016.

It was named after William H. Seward, early member of the United States Republican Party, United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln. As Secretary of State, he fought for the U.S. purchase of Alaska which he finally negotiated to acquire from Russia.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.5 square miles (55.8 km²), of which, 14.4 square miles (37.4 km²) of it is land and 7.1 square miles (18.4 km²) of it (32.93%) is water.

Adjoining communities include Bear Creek and Lowell Point.


  • Seward is the seventh most lucrative fisheries port in the United States per value. In 2004, 49.7 million dollars worth of fish and shellfish passed through Seward according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.
  • Another major industry in Seward is tourism.


As of the census of 2000, there were 2,830 people, 917 households, and 555 families residing in the city. The population density was 196.0 people per square mile (75.7/km²). There were 1,058 housing units at an average density of 73.3/sq mi (28.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.12% White, 2.44% Black or African American, 16.68% Native American, 1.84% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 0.88% from other races, and 5.87% from two or more races. 2.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 917 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.4% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 35.9% from 25 to 44, 25.7% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 150.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 166.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,306, and the median income for a family was $54,904. Males had a median income of $36,900 versus $30,508 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,360. About 8.3% of families and 10.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.

Population of Seward
Year Population
1920 700
1930 800
1940 900
1950 2,100
1960 1,900
1970 1,600
1980 1,800
1990 2,700


Seward is unique among most small Alaskan communities in that it has road access in the Seward Highway, a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, which also brings it bus service, albeit most buses are marketed towards tourists and the costs are higher and service decreases or ceases in the winter. Seward is also the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. This keeps the port busy with freight coming on and off the trains, but also makes Seward a primary end point for north-bound cruise ships. Cruise ship passengers get off the boats and take the train farther north to Denali or other Alaskan attractions.

Seward used to receive service from the Alaska Marine Highway (ferry) system, however, service was discontinued at the end of the 2005 season due to budget cuts and "under utilization." Ferry connections are available in Whittier (90 miles North) or Homer (150 miles by highway).

Seward Airport (PAWD/SWD) is home to (general aviation) services and flight-seeing operators. Scheduled commercial service is available at Kenai Municipal Airport in Kenai and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, both about 100 miles away. Seasonal bus connections are also available.

International sister cities

Notable people from Seward

  • In 1927, thirteen-year old Seward resident and Native Alaskan, Benny Benson, won a territory-wide American Legion contest to design a flag for Alaska. Born in Chignik in 1913, he was three when his mother died of pneumonia. Soon after her death the family's house burned and his Swedish fisherman father sent Benny and his brother to the Jesse Lee Home in Seward. Winning the contest changed Benny’s life. The prize for designing the flag included a $1000 scholarship which he used to become an airplane mechanic. He married, raised a family, and died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 58. His design became the territorial flag and eventually the state flag. He is memorialized in Seward by the Benny Benson Memorial Park.



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