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in the highest circles of society, he has never avoided friendly intercourse with the most obscure and lowly. The patron of struggling merit-cherishing a deep interest in all social and philanthropic movements-watchful to aid the unfortunate and forsaken --and ever ready to devote his time, his talents, and his pecuniary means to the defence of the wronged and oppressed of every caste and color-he has gained the lasting gratitude and love of the people with whom, for over a quarter of a century, he has lived as a neighbor and fellow-citizen.

Although free from all taint of sectarianism, Mr. Seward cherishes a strong attachment to the Protestant Episcopal Church; of which he became a member in 1837. He has been frequently called to attend ecclesiastical conventions of that body. With his devotion to the cause of public improvement, he has been the patron of churches, schools, and benevolent institutions, liberally contributing his money for their support, and his counsels for their direction.

After establishing himself in Auburn, Mr. Seward became interested in the military affairs of the neighborhood, and was soon honored with various military offices. Accepting the colonelcy of a regiment, he acquired wide distinction and still higher promotion by his zeal and discipline. Without personal military ambition, he was an ardent friend of a well-regulated militia system for the preservation of order and the defence of the country. He was an excellent tactician, and an accomplished commander, while his winning qualities as a man secured the friendship of all around him, who were engaged in the same department of public service.

From the commencement of his practice as a lawyer, Mr. Seward was always in the habit of arguing his own cases, instead of employing older counsellors, as is often done by young advocates. In the management of a case he sparingly refers to the authority of recorded decisions, but stating the general principles of law applicable to the question, and arranging the facts in the simplest order, enforces his arguments by a priori reasonings, and shows the basis of his position in natural equity. As a professional rule, he gives his aid to a weaker party against a stronger, even without compensation, whether his client be right or wrong; but if a stronger party claims his services against a weaker, he does not engage in the suit without a clear conviction of its justice, what

ever be the compensation. During the whole course of his practice he has never been known to act for a man against a woman; and was never but once engaged in a cause against the accused; and that was an instance of extreme outrage by a man upon a young woman.

The legal career of Mr. Seward is illustrated with no less justice than vigor in the following sketch of his early professional life, written several years since for one of the periodicals of the day.


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"The practice of the law in the country must not be estimated by the practice in the city. Each has its own advantages and difficulties; it is the peculiarity of the former, that it at once brings to the test, and to the public view, the intrinsic qualities of the The crowded bar-the long deferred opportunity-the deference to age and experience—the overshadowing reputation of the seniors of the profession, and the innumerable natural or conventional impediments, which so long keep back, and so often depress the young aspirant with us, are felt in a very mitigated degree in the interior The candidate for distinction is there summoned at once to the arena: naked steel is around him ;' he is thrown upon his own talents, energies and resources, and he stands and falls as in his native and unaided strength. To have stood this trial successfully, and after eleven years of arduous labors to have risen to the very foremost rank of his profession, as did Mr. Seward, is in itself an unerring indication of the high character of the object of these remarks. In all our courts, and in causes of every description, his talents have been exercised and admired. He has stood forward and distinguished himself with such men as John C. Spencer, Joshua A. Spencer, Albert H. Tracy, and their contemporaries of the West, for whom competition if not pre-eminence may be challenged with the Athletes of the Bar in any other section of the State, or of the country. Property, liberty and life have been committed to the integrity and ability of this young man of thirty-three,' and he has never faltered in his trust, nor failed in an emergency, nor left unfulfilled an expectation."

His most formidable competitors at the Auburn Bar during the commencement of his practice, were Hon. John M. Hurlbut and William Brown, Esqs. Both these distinguished men were accomplished scholars, erudite jurists and powerful advocates. At this time they were in the dazzling flush of professional success. The brilliancy of their fame threw most of their rivals into the shade. Many excellent members of the bar had been deterred by their eminence from attempting to vie with them in the courts. But upon a man like Mr. Seward their influence was of a contrary nature. Their intellectual predominance only aroused his emulalation; nor did he suffer by the comparison. Possessing a native independence of mind, he was early accustomed to original thought. This habit was strengthened by severe discipline. Attaching a due value to the suggestions of others, he still relied upon himself. Connected with this trait of character, was a rigid habit of indus

try; he studied while others slept. The time which most men give to recreation he devoted to strenuous toil. With such qualifications, Mr. Seward soon entered upon an extensive and successful practice. His fame grew with his years, until he fills a sphere which is surpassed in brilliancy and importance by that of few of his contemporaries, incontestibly ranking with the first lawyers of the Union.

The attention of Mr. Seward was early drawn to political affairs. His father was an ardent champion of the Jeffersonian democracy. The traditionary instincts and early prepossessions of the son were strongly in favor of the same principles. Mr. Seward accorddingly, sympathised with the democratic party, believing that it embodied the spirit of popular freedom to a greater extent, than any other party of the day. He was early undeceived by experience. Discovering that under the pretence of democracy the leaders of the party were bent on personal interests, irrespective of the rights of humanity and the public good, he left them at once and forever. He has attached but slight importance to mere party names. The diffusion of genuine republican sentiments among the people, and their practical realization in the institutions and laws of his country, have been the leading objects of his political life.

Mr. Seward first had occasion to express his convictions on the subject of slavery during the protracted struggle on the admission of Missouri into the Union. He perceived, at that early period, the subserviency to Southern influence and dictation, which prevailed in the democratic party in the state of New York. From that day to the present his life has been devoted to the principles of liberty. In his view, freedom is national and slavery sectional. With him the purpose of the Union is to establish the blessings of equality, justice and humanity; not to enlarge the area of bondage and oppression. His hostility to slavery has not been the result of policy, but of principle of the strongest conviction of its inherent injustice, and its tendency to corrupt and destroy the noblest institutions of the country. His rule of action on the subject has been uniform from the commencement of his political career. He has never suffered the fear of consequences to silence his voice in defence of freedom, when any practical benefit was at stake; but he has strictly avoided every act that was adapted to inflict a needless wound upon an opponent, or to foment an unprofitable excitement.

In his measures with regard to slavery, Mr. Seward has been no fanatic. Detesting the institution, he has waged against it an honorable warfare. But he has refrained, with scrupulous care, from infringing on the constitutional rights of slave holders, or depriving them of any privilege to which they are entitled by law. This is the extent of his concessions. He refuses to accord any advantage beyond legal enactment to an institution which violates the first principles of natural right.

His position on this subject was clearly defined in his California speech.*

"I feel assured that slavery must give way, and will give way, to the salutary instructions of economy, and to the ripening influences of humanity; that emancipation is inevitable, and is near; that it may be hastened or hindered; and that whether it be peaceful or violent depends upon the question whether it be hastened or hindered; that all measures which fortify slavery or extend it, tend to the consummation of violence; all that check its extension and abate its strength, tend to its peaceful extirpation. But I will adopt none but lawful, constitutional, and peaceful means, to secure even that end; and none such can I or will I forego. Nor do I know any important or responsible political body that proposes to do more than this. No free state claims to extend its legislation into a slave state. None claims that Congress shall usurp power to abolish slavery in the slave states. None claims that any violent, unconstitutional or unlawful measure shall be embraced. And on the other hand, if we offer no scheme or plan for the adoption of the slave states, with the assent and co-operation of Congress, it is only because the slave states are unwilling as yet to receive such suggestions, or even to entertain the question of emancipation in any form.”

Mr. Seward's first public action of a political character was in 1824. In October of that year, he drew up the Address of the Republican Convention of Cayuga County to the people.+ In this document, he gave a brief history of the origin and designs of the Albany regency-a clique of political leaders, which once exerted a great and most injurious influence in the state of New York. He exposed its system of machinery-its opposition to the electoral law, placing the appointment of presidential electors in the hands of the people, although solemnly pledged to its support and its intrigues to prevent the election of John Quincy Adams to the presidency, and to secure the ultimate election of Martin Van Buren. The opposition to the Albany regency, thus boldly commenced by the young politician, was finally crowned with complete success. The sources of its influence were destroyed, and the power, which had been centralized in its organization. was restored to the possession of the people. See Vol. III, p. 335.

*See Vol. I. p. 51.

On the 4th of July, 1825, Mr. Seward delivered an anniversary oration at Auburn.* The Missouri Compromise and the Tariff of 1824 had recently elicited threats of nullification at the south. In this oration, Mr. Seward took the same position on several important political questions, which he has maintained to the present day. He argued the capacity of the government for the extension of empire, asserting the perpetuity of the Union on the same grounds that have been advanced in his later productions. Announcing his devotion to the great principles of emancipation, he insisted that the United States should be a "city of refuge" for the oppressed and down-trodden of every nation.

In 1826 and 1827, the Greek revolution awakened a general sympathy in the United States. A meeting of citizens of Auburn was held in February, 1827, for the purpose of rendering aid to the struggling Greeks. Mr. Seward was invited to deliver a speech on this occasion.† The subject was congenial to his feelings, and he gladly consented to the request. With characteristic eloquence, he defended the cause of liberty in other lands-asserting its claims on American sympathy, in the same line of argument which he afterwards reproduced in behalf of Ireland and Hungary. His vigorous and glowing appeal was met by the people to whom it was addressed with a munificent liberality which was elsewhere without a parallel.

In July, 1828, Mr. Seward was invited by the members of the Adelphic Society of Union College, to deliver a eulogy on David Berdan, a member of the society, who died on his passage from London to Boston, July 20, 1827. It was a sincere and eloquent tribute to the memory of an esteemed companion and friend. The monument erected to young Berdan, still forms an interesting object to those who visit the college grounds at Schenectady. The year 1828 is distinguished as the period when the young men of our country first made an effort to exert a personal influence on national politics. A convention of the young men of New York in favor of the re-election of John Quincy Adams to the presidency was held at Utica, on the 12th of August. It was one of the largest political conventions ever assembled in the Empire state. Four hundred delegates, in the flower and freshness of youth, were present at the session, which continued for * See Vol. III, p. 193. See Vol. III, p. 197. See Vol. III, p. 117.

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