The Village of Florida went back in time to the 1800s on Sat., May 14 for the birthday celebration of its native son William Henry Seward. Several groups and organizations wore attire from Seward’s era in a parade organized by the Florida Historical Society.
Young historians from the Florida School District participated in the event honoring Seward, who was born on May 16, 1801, in Florida, NY. A horse-drawn buggy made its way down Main St. with Mayor Daniel Harter dressed as President Abraham Lincoln and Deputy Mayor Thomas Fuller resembling William Henry Seward.
Under President Lincoln, Seward served as Secretary of State from 1861 to 1869 during the Civil War. He survived an assassination attempt on April 15, 1865, on the night of Lincoln’s assassination. He remained in his post as Secretary of State through the presidency of Andrew Johnson, during which he negotiated the Alaska Purchase.
“There was a lot of turmoil back then during the Civil War with a divided nation. William Henry Seward did a lot to make sure the country got back together after the war ended,” said Mayor Daniel Harter, addressing a crowd that gathered at the Seward Memorial Monument for a wreath ceremony.
Joan Kissinger, President of the Florida Historical Society, spoke about how proud residents are of Seward’s accomplishments. In 1830, Seward was elected to the New York State Senate. Eight years later, he was elected Governor of New York. In Auburn, NY, where Seward lived with his wife, Frances, and their children, they were abolitionists who opened their home as a safehouse on the Underground Railroad.
After the brief presentation, the celebration continued on the grounds of S.S. Seward Institute where children enjoyed playing old-fashioned games. Everyone looks forward to attending next year’s event.
Photo: Seward Day 1
Photo by Jennifer O’Connor
Joan Kissinger, President of the Florida Historical Society, (from left) spoke during a wreath ceremony with Mayor Daniel Harter dressed as President Abraham Lincoln, Deputy Mayor Thomas Fuller as William Henry Seward, and Town Justice Peter Barlet.
Photo: Seward Day 2
Parade marchers wore 1800s attire in celebration of William Henry Seward Day.
Photo: Seward Day 3
Re-enactors of the 124th Civil War Infantry marched in the William Henry Seward Day Parade.
Photo: Seward Day 4
Deputy Mayor Thomas Fuller, dressed as Secretary of State William Henry Seward (left), rides in a horse-drawn carriage with Mayor Daniel Harter, dressed as President Abraham Lincoln.