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William H. Seward (1801–1872) was United States Secretary of State from 1861 to 1869, and earlier served as Governor of New York and United States Senator. A determined opponent of the spread of slavery in the years leading up to the American Civil War, he was a dominant figure in the Republican Party in its formative years, and was generally praised for his work on behalf of the Union as Secretary of State during the American Civil War. His firm stance against foreign intervention in the Civil War helped deter Britain and France from entering the conflict, which might have led to the independence of the Confederate States. His contemporary Carl Schurz described Seward as "one of those spirits who sometimes will go ahead of public opinion instead of tamely following its footprints."