William H. Seward
William H. Seward, Secretary of State in the Lincoln administration, was born in New York, where he served as governor before moving on to the United States Senate in 1849 as a Whig. In 1855, however, being ardently anti-slavery he joined the newly-formed Republican Party.
Lincoln’s appointment of Seward to Secretary of State in 1861 was risky, as the latter was very unpopular and distrusted in Great Britain, to whom he was at times openly-hostile in his language, even informally expressing interest in annexing parts of Canada from the British and using threatening language towards the Duke of Newcastle during an official visit in 1859 by the Prince of Wales.
Seward’s potentially-hostile language made the role of the US Minister to London, Charles Francis Adams, that much more vital. Henry Adams, private secretary and son to the US Minister, in a letter to his brother, Charles Francis Adams, Jr, expressed his anguish towards Seward for his making their work in London far more difficult. ‘What Seward means is more than I can guess. But if he means war also, or to run as close as he can without touching, then I say that Mr Seward is the greatest criminal we’ve had yet.’