A Brief History of Clarence A. Seward

Clarence Armstrong Seward was born in New York in October of 1828. But at seven-years-old, Clarence lost both his parents, so his uncle William H. Seward took him under wing. William would later serve as the Secretary of State under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

After graduating from Hobart College in 1848, Clarence studied law at Auburn. By 1854 he moved to New York City and became a partner at Blatchford, Seward, Griswold & Da Costa, which grew to be one of the most prominent law firms in the city. Specializing in patent law and the law of common carriers, Seward primarily represented railroad and industrial interests, but he also served as Judge Advocate General to New York from 1856 to 1860.

Concurrent with President Lincoln’s assassination in April of 1865, was an attack on William H. Seward. Although he would survive the assault, his injuries prevented William from returning to his post. So for the first part of President Johnson’s term, Clarence was called upon to fill the position as Assistant Secretary of State. Clarence quickly proved his ability and earned a notable reputation.

Later in life, Clarence A. Seward also served as a delegate to the National Republic Convention and as a Presidential Elector. But throughout his life and extensive career, Clarence’s greatest passion was literature. He often drew from his favorite authors—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spencer, or Milton—in conversation and in his own writings. There was no limit to the subjects Clarence could address, having extended his studies from the arts, music and literature to science, astronomy, history, politics and economics. His broad understanding on every topic nurtured his character and personal charm, so that there was no individual with whom he could not find a common thread.

Clarence Armstrong Seward died on July 24, 1897 from heart failure in Geneva, NY. He lived a full life, gave generously, and dedicated himself to his work.