"William H. Seward's daughter Fanny came of age during the turbulent years of the Civil War. She knew her father's colleagues in Lincoln's cabinet, including the president, and wrote penetrating comments in her diary about events and persons. Trudy Krisher's gripping narrative of Fanny's experiences builds toward its tragic climax in Lincoln's assassination and the vicious attack on Fanny's father right before her eyes, followed by the poignant anticlimax of Fanny's own death from the nineteenth-century curse of tuberculosis."—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
"At last Fanny Seward, the precocious, perceptive daughter of Secretary of State William Seward, gets her own book, the book she deserves: warm and literate and engaging."—Walter Stahr, author of Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man
"This well researched account of young Fanny Seward, resident of upstate New York and daughter of Lincoln's right-hand man in Washington DC, brings a human perspective to domestic life in the Civil War period. The poignant story of Fanny from childhood through early adulthood provides rich context to the well-preserved Seward House in Auburn, New York."—Deirdre Stam, Long Island University
"Though little known outside her family & circle of friends, Fanny Seward, daughter of Lincoln's Secretary of State, was witness to some of the most pivotal events and figures of American history during the mid-1800s. Krisher's excellent new book enables this shy young woman to finally step from behind the scenes of history and take center stage."—Jennifer Haines, Seward family historian
"Krisher treats us to a rare glimpse into a spirited and articulate single woman’s interior world, revealing how she navigated the gendered spheres of family, friendships, family, politics, community, and civic engagement with grace, poise, and insight."—Kate Clifford Larson, author of Bound For the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero
"Krisher paints a lively rendering of the youngest child born to Frances and William Henry Seward and into a home of privilege and progressive politics. As a statesman, the world knows of Seward's exploits: successful lawyer, abolitionist, governor of New York, United States senator, unsuccessful campaign challenger of Abraham Lincoln for the 16th presidency, nine-year secretary of state for Presidents Lincoln and Andrew Johnson and purchaser of Alaska. Little is known, however, of "Fanny." With Krisher's latest work, readers can come to see the Civil War and the years leading up to it in a new light when they take in her warm 250-page account of Fanny's perspective on events."—The Citizen
"Trudy Krisher has breathed life back into a woman who died much too young. . . . A wonderfully written book of a life bound up in our country’s most traumatic hour. A must read!"—Historical Novel Society
On April 14, 1865, the night of President Lincoln’s assassination, Booth’s conspirator Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward in his home just blocks from Ford’s Theatre. The attack, which left Seward and his son seriously wounded, is recounted in poignant detail in Fanny Seward’s diary. Fanny, the beloved only daughter of Seward, was a keen observer, and her diary entries from 1858 to 1866 are the foundation of Krisher’s vivid portrait of the young girl who was an eyewitness to one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
Fanny offers intimate observations on the politicians, generals, and artists of the time. She tells of attending dinner parties, visiting troops, and going to the theater, often alongside President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary. Through Fanny’s writings, Krisher not only skillfully brings to life the events and activities of a progressive political family but also illuminates the day-to-day drama of the war. Giving readers a previously unseen glimpse into the era, Fanny Seward: A Life broadens our understanding of Civil War America.
Trudy Krisher is a retired professor in the Department of Liberal Arts, Communication, and Social Sciences at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.
6 x 9, 336 pages, 15 black and white illustrations