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William Seward

William served as New York’s 12th governor and then as a member of the U.S. Senate, where he established himself as a leading antislavery activist. He was one of the foremost critics of the  Compromise of 1850, a group of measures that tightened the fugitive slave law and maintained the slave trade in the South. During one speech on the Senate floor, Seward famously stated that slavery was an immoral practice and argued that there existed “a higher law than the Constitution.” Seward was appointed secretary of state in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet. He would eventually become one of Lincoln’s closest advisers during the Civil War, helping to ensure that Europe did not recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation.