The Destiny of America


William H. Seward (1801‒72) was a prominent politician who represented the state of New York in the United States Senate from 1849 to 1861. He helped to found the Republican Party and eventually became secretary of state to President Abraham Lincoln and emerged as Lincoln’s closest cabinet adviser. Seward was an opponent of slavery and a critic of European monarchy. He also believed that the United States was destined to rule in North America and beyond, bringing prosperity and enlightenment to wherever American power held sway. The Destiny of America is a reprint of a speech that Seward gave at the dedication of Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, on September 14, 1853, in which he laid out his expansive and optimistic vision of America’s future role in the world. He predicted that the borders of the United States “shall be extended so that it shall greet the sun when he touches the Tropic, and when he sends his glancing rays toward the Polar circle, and shall include even distant lands in either ocean; that our population now counted by tens of millions shall ultimately be reckoned by the hundreds of millions…. and that mankind shall come to recognize in us a successor of the few great states which have alternately borne commanding sway in the world.” This would only happen, he added, provided “our public and private virtues shall be preserved.” The speech was printed by the Albany, New York, firm of Weed, Parsons & Company, which was co-owned by Seward’s political ally, the journalist and printer Thurlow Weed (1797‒1882).

Last updated: January 10, 2018