When William Henry Seward was passed over for the
Republican nomination in 1860 in favor of Abraham
Lincoln, many people felt it was the sacrifice
of commanding ability in favor of respectable mediocrity.
Having served as governor of New York and later
as a United States senator, he was by far the better-known
and more-seasoned politician. But Sewards
belief that the struggle between the slave and free
states was an irrepressible conflict between
opposing and enduring forces had made him
some implacable enemies.
In the end, Seward supported Lincoln actively
and became his secretary of state. Combining the
virtues of politician and statesman, Seward was
highly successful in preventing the intervention
of European powers in American affairs during
the Civil War years. So closely was he associated
with Lincolns policies that he was attacked
on the night the President was assassinated, in
an unsuccessful attempt to cripple the government.