William H. Seward, Frederick H. Meserve Collection of Americana, c. 1862

Secretary of State

The premier spot in Lincoln’s cabinet belonged to former Senator William H. Seward of New York who had been Lincoln’s chief rival for the Republican nomination in 1860. In his new role, Seward initially disagreed with Lincoln on several key issues but they worked together well and he became the president’s chief advisor. Lincoln gave Seward nearly free rein when it came to foreign affairs.