Horatio Seymour, an American statesman, born in Pompey, Onondaga co., N. Y., May 31, 1810. When he was nine years of age his parents removed to Utica. He was educated at the academies of Oxford and Geneva, N. Y., and Partridge's military school, Middletown, Conn., studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1832. The death of his father devolved upon him the settlement of a large estate, and withdrew him from the practice of his profession. From 1833 to 1839 he served on the military staff of Gov. Marcy. In 1841 he was elected to the state assembly as a democrat, was reelected three times, and in 1845 was chosen speaker. In 1842, while in the assembly, he was elected mayor of Utica for one year. In 1848 he supported Lewis Cass for the presidency. In 1850 he was nominated by the democrats for governor, and was defeated by Washington Hunt, the whig candidate, by a plurality of 262 votes; but in 1852 he was elected governor by a plurality of 22,596 votes over the same competitor. A prohibitory liquor bill passed in March, 1854, was vetoed by him on the ground that it was unconstitutional.
He was renominated in 1854. The prohibition question entered largely into the canvass, which was further complicated by the Know-Nothing issue and the anti-slavery agitation growing out of the repeal of the Missouri compromise. There were four candidates for governor, and Myron H. Clark, whig and prohibitionist, was elected by a plurality of 309 votes over Gov. Seymour. In 1862 Mr. Seymour was again elected governor over Gen. James S. Wadsworth by a majority of 10,752 votes. In his inaugural address on Jan. 1,1863, he said: "Under no circumstances can the division of the Union be conceded. We will put forth every exertion of power; we will use every policy of conciliation; we will guarantee them every right, every consideration demanded by the constitution and by that fraternal regard which must prevail in a common country; but we can never voluntarily consent to the breaking up of the union of these states or the destruction of the constitution." On June 15 Secretary Stanton, by direction of President Lincoln, telegraphed to Gov. Seymour asking if he could raise and forward 20,000 militia to assist in repelling the threatened invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania by Lee's army; and within three days 12,000 soldiers were on their way from New York to Harrisburg. While these troops were absent from the state the draft was ordered to be enforced in the city of New York on July 11. On the 9th Gen. John E. Wool, commanding the department of the East, addressed a letter to Gov. Seymour setting forth that the city of New York was in a defenceless condition, and asked that he might be furnished with four companies of infantry.
These companies were on their way thither from the interior of the state when Gen. Wool telegraphed, July 13: "Please countermand any militia that is ordered to this place." On the same day the draft riots began. The governor immediately went to New York, where on the 14th he issued two proclamations, one calling on the rioters to disperse, and the other declaring the city in a state of insurrection. He divided it into districts, which were placed under the control of military men who were directed to organize the citizens; and 3,000 stand of arms were issued to these and other organizations. Boats were chartered to convey policemen and soldiers to any point on the shores of the island where disturbances were threatened. The governor visited all the riotous districts in person, and by persuasion as well as by the use of the force at his command aided in quelling the disturbance. During his term Gov. Seymour commissioned more than 13,000 Officers in the volunteer service of the United States. In 1864 he addressed a message to the legislature advocating the payment of the interest on the state bonds in gold; and the refusal of the legislature to adopt this policy greatly depreciated their value.
In August he presided over the democratic national convention at Chicago, which nominated Gen. McClel-lan for the presidency. He also presided over the convention of 1868, held in New York. The leading candidates for the nomination were George H. Pendleton, Andrew Johnson, Thomas A. Hendricks, and Gen. W. S. Hancock. Gov. Seymour had positively declined to permit the use of his name as a candidate; but on the 22d ballot the Ohio delegation, to forestall a threatened movement in favor of Salmon P. Chase, cast their united vote for Horatio Seymour. When Wisconsin was reached in the call of states its delegation seconded his nomination, and every state changed its vote to Seymour, who was declared the unanimous choice of the convention. Gen. Francis P. Blair, jr., was nominated for vice president. At the election Seymour and Blair received 2,703,600 votes, against 3,013,188 votes for Grant and Colfax. Mr. Seymour lives on an extensive and well cultivated farm in Deer-field, near Utica. He is president (1875) of the national dairymen's association, and has delivered many addresses before agricultural societies.
He is also president of the prison association of the United States.