This week on Q&A our guest is Walter Stahr, author of a newly released biography titled “Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man.” He explains that William H. Seward was one of the most important Americans of the nineteenth century. He details Seward’s service as a progressive Governor of New York and an outspoken United States Senator, before he was chosen to serve as Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State and became Lincoln’s closest adviser.
He describes events leading up to the April night in 1865 when President Lincoln was assassinated. Stahr relates the story of how another assassin entered Seward’s Washington, DC home and tried to kill him, but instead left him severely wounded. Seward remained as Secretary of State until the end of President Andrew Johnson’s first term in March 1869. Stahr speaks about the special relationship between Abraham Lincoln and William Seward, and observes that some detractors erroneously stated at the time that Seward was actually the power behind Lincoln’s presidency. He also talks about his years as a practicing attorney, in Hong Kong and elsewhere, and his decision to take up writing as a profession.
Walter Stahr was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and grew up in Arcadia, California. He attended Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Stanford University, and Harvard Law School. He practiced law for 25 years, and is currently a member of the District of Columbia bar. His first book, “John Jay: Founding Father” was published in 2005. He is married and lives in New Hampshire and Virginia.