The Civil War marked a significant turning point in American history -- not only for the United States itself but also for its relations with foreign powers both during and after the conflict. The friendship and foreign policy partnership between President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Henry Seward shaped those US foreign policies. These unlikely allies, who began as rivals during the 1860 presidential nomination, helped ensure that America remained united and prospered in the aftermath of the nation's consuming war.
In Lincoln, Seward, and US Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, Joseph A. Fry examines the foreign policy decisions that resulted from this partnership and the legacy of those decisions. Lincoln and Seward, despite differences in upbringing, personality, and social status, both adamantly believed in the preservation of the union and the need to stymie slavery. They made that conviction the cornerstone of their policies abroad, and through those policies, such as Seward threatening war with any nation that intervened in the Civil War, they prevented European intervention that could have led to Northern defeat. The Union victory allowed America to resume imperial expansion, a dynamic that Seward sustained beyond Lincoln's death during his tenure as President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State.
Fry's analysis of the Civil War from an international perspective and the legacy of US policy decisions provides a more complete view of the war and a deeper understanding of this crucial juncture in American history.
by Joseph A. Fry
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