Frances Adeline "Fanny" Seward (1844 - 1866)

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Death: Died
Cause of death: tuberculosis
Managed by: Martin Eriksen
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About Frances Adeline "Fanny" Seward

Frances Adeline "Fanny" Seward (December 9, 1844 – October 29, 1866) was the only surviving daughter of United States Secretary of State, William H. Seward and his wife Frances Adeline Miller. Born into privilege in Auburn, New York; her father a powerful, progressive Whig (later Republican) United States Senator and former Governor of New York; her mother a stalwart abolitionist of prominent descent; Fanny was duly accorded a progressive education and upbringing. Mrs. Frances Seward, bearing a sickly constitution, ill-disposed to travel and Washington social circles, chose to remain largely at home in Auburn after her husband's appointment by President Abraham Lincoln to the office of Secretary of State. Thus in 1861, Fanny, at sixteen years old, became in a rather matronly manner her father's closest domestic companion. She devotedly accompanied him into office and life in wartime Washington, into the roiling maelstrom of the nation's darkest hour.

A sensitive and precocious girl with pronounced literary aspirations, Fanny Seward would maintain a voluminous diary throughout the course of the Civil War, documenting with pricelessly intimate detail the social and political milieu of Washington D.C. during the Lincoln administration. She witnessed the war's final concerted acts of bloodletting. As John Wilkes Booth was making his way into Ford's Theater just after 10 p.m. on April 14, 1865, his fellow conspirator and collaborator-in-arms Lewis Powell stormed into the Seward house and began a savage rampage by stabbing, slashing and pistol-whipping his way through the cordon of family and servants. Upon reaching the bedridden Secretary of State, Powell repeatedly stabbed Seward's face and neck. Only the collective effort of Fanny, her brother Augustus and a military sentry caused Powell to flee the bedroom and house, not before inflicting wounds on everyone present including Fanny. All of those wounded in the attack eventually recovered from their physical injuries. For his crimes, Lewis Powell was hanged with three other convicted Booth conspirators.

In the eighteen months following the attack, her mother died the following June, and Fanny Seward herself succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 21 in October, 1866.

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Fanny Seward's Timeline

December 9, 1844
October 29, 1866
Age 21