William Seward’s “The Irrepressible Conflict” speech expressed his belief that there would come a tipping point that drove the United States to become an entirely free or entirely slave-holding nation.
William Henry Seward, a former New York senator and governor, was a central figure in American politics from the late 1830s to the late 1860s. Seward, who was Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of state and helped influence his policies, is a central figure in the new Steven Spielberg film Lincoln.
The University community can get a glimpse into Seward’s life at an exhibit, William Henry Seward and His Civil War, open through Jan. 4 in the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation in Rush Rhees Library.
Curated by Jordan Shapiro ’14, the exhibit includes letters from his wife, prominent senators, and Lincoln. It also features photographs and household objects from Seward and his family, offering a glimpse into his private life.
The exhibit can be viewed in the Rare Books department on the second floor of Rush Rhees Library, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For Saturday viewing hours, call 275-4477.
Below: A letter from President Abraham Lincoln to political advisor Thurlow Weed is part of the library’s William Henry Seward Papers collection.