William Henry Seward and the Secession Crisis

The Effort to Prevent Civil War


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About the Book

While Abraham Lincoln was taking center stage in a divided country, a political rival-turned-ally was exerting a major influence on national affairs. William Henry Seward, U.S. senator and former New York governor, lost the Republican Party nomination but aided Lincoln by touring the country on behalf of the Republican ticket. As Southern states prepared to withdraw from the Union, Secretary of State Seward sought to reunite the country. This biography explores Seward’s political power and the theory that, as president, he might have prevented the Civil War.

About the Author(s)

Lawrence M. Denton of Oxford, Maryland, is an author and lecturer on the secession crisis in Maryland. A former academic administrator at Johns Hopkins University and a presidential appointee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he also helped produce the television series Forecast Earth.

Bibliographic Details

Lawrence M. Denton
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 227
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4428-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5422-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments      1

Introduction      5

1. Luck of the Draw      11

2. To Be President      28

3. Henry Takes Charge      60

4. February—Union Light, Shine Bright      88

5. March Madness      112

6. The Point of No Return      140

Epilogue: Saving the Nation      168

Appendix: The 1860 Presidential Election      201

Chapter Notes      203

Bibliography      213

Index      217

Book Reviews & Awards

“Lawrence Denton has produced a slice of historical drama often given short shrift in classrooms. The book is meticulously researched and intelligently separated into chapters. He presents the escalating danger with a real sense of urgency. This is a hold-your-breath account of a national rupture, so well written that while the reader knows how it ends, the sense of suspense is palpable. Highly recommended”—Star Democrat Online; “excellent biography…WOW!”—The Lone Star; “A fascinating reassessment of presidential leadership at a moment of supreme crisis.”—Daniel W. Crofts, Professor of History, author of Reluctant Confederates; “Denton has breathed new life into the age old debate on whether the Civil War could have been avoided. He is to be commended for this fresh scholarship.”—Ted Alexander, Chief Historian, Antietam National Battlefield Park; “A thought-provoking analysis of Seward’s actions at a pivotal time in our nation’s greatest crisis.”—Peter Wisbey, Executive Director, Seward House.