Posts Tagged ‘New York politicians of the 19th century’

The Lincoln assassination victim from New York

October 27, 2011

It’s hard not to notice the imposing bronze statue of a cross-legged, Lincoln-like man looming over the southwest corner of Madison Square Park on 23rd Street.

That man is William H. Seward, 19th century abolitionist governor and senator from New York State who served as secretary of state under President Lincoln.

Seward never lived in the city. But his name lives on here (think Seward Park and Seward Avenue in the Bronx) because he was recognized as a great statesman . . . and maybe also thanks to his miraculous luck surviving the Lincoln assassination conspiracy in 1865.

On the night of April 14, as John Wilkes Booth aimed a gun at President Lincoln in Ford’s Theater, Booth conspirator Lewis Powell conned his way into Seward’s D.C. home, repeatedly stabbing him (below).

Incredibly, Seward didn’t succumb to his wounds; supposedly a splint on his jaw protected his jugular vein.

He recovered and stayed on as secretary of state until 1869, then died in 1872.

Oh, and don’t believe the myth that the Madison Square statue is merely Seward’s head attached to a preexisting mold of Lincoln’s body. The New York Parks Department assures us that it is not.