William Henry Seward, Sr. (1801–1872) was a two-term Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State from 1861 through 1869 under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Seward was wounded by an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth in an assassination attempt at the same time as Booth's assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Seward also served as the vice-president of the American Bible Society in the 1830s.
Seward is best known for his purchase of Alaska from Russian, which was derisively called "Seward's Folly" because it was not thought to have any value. Later valuable natural resources, including gold and oil, were discovered there.
Quotations of Seward include:
- I do not believe human society...ever has attained, or ever can attain, a high state of intelligence, virtue, security, liberty, or happiness without the Holy Scriptures; even the whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever-growing influence of the Bible.
- I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible; the experiment has never been tried; but this I do know: that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible.
- And, further, I...believe that if at every decade of years a copy of the Bible could be found in every family in the land its republican institutions would be perpetuated.