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Seymour, Horatio

SEYMOUR, HORATIO (1810-1886), American statesman, was born at Pompey, Onondaga county, New York, on the 31st of May 1810. His ancestor, Richard Seymour, a Protestant Episcopal 'clergyman, was an early settler at Hartford, Connecticut, and his father, Henry Seymour, who removed from Connecticut to New York, was prominent in the Democratic party in the state, being a member of the " Albany Regency " and serving as state senator in 1816-1819 an d in 1822, and as canal commissioner in 1810-1831. The son was brought up in Utica, studied in 1824-1825 at Geneva Academy (afterwards Hobart College), and then at a military school in Middletown, Conn., and was admitted to the bar in 1832. He was military secretary to Governor W. L. Marcy in 1833-1839, was a member of the New York Assembly in 1842, in 1844 and in 1845, being speaker in 1845; mayor of Utica in 1843, and in 1852 was elected governor of the state over Washington Hunt (1811-1867), the Whig candidate, who had defeated him in 1850. He vetoed in 1854 a bill prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors (which was declared unconstitutional almost immediately after its reenactment in 1855), and in consequence he was defeated in 1854 for re-election as governor by Myron Holley Clark (1806-1892), the Whig and temperance candidate. Seymour was a conservative on national issues and supported the administrations of Pierce and Buchanan; he advocated compromise to avoid secession in 1860-1861; but when war broke out he supported the maintenance of the Union. In 1863-1865 he was again governor of New York state. His opposition to President Lincoln's policy was mainly in respect to emancipation, military arrests and conscription. The president tried to win him over early in 1863, but Seymour disapproved of the arrest of C. S. Vallandigham in May, and, although he responded immediately to the call for militia in June, he thought the Conscription Act unnecessary and unconstitutional and urged the president to postpone the draft until its legality could be tested. During the draft riots in July he proclaimed the city and county of New York in a state of insurrection, but in a speech to the rioters adopted a tone of conciliation a political error which injured his career. He was defeated as Democratic candidate for governor in 1864. In 1868 he was nominated presidential candidate by the National Democratic Convention, Francis P. Blair, Jr., being nominated for the vice-presidency; but Seymour and Blair carried only eight states (including New York, New Jersey and Oregon), and received only 80 electoral votes to 214 for Grant and Colfax. Seymour did not re-enter political life, refusing to be considered for the United States senatorship from New York in 1876. He died on the 12th of February 1886 in Utica, at the home of his sister, who was the wife of Roscoe Conkling.

The Public Record of Horatio Seymour (New York, 1868) includes his speeches and official papers between 1856 and 1868.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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