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William Seward's Maiden Speech

Senator William Seward
Library of Congress

William Henry Seward's “Freedom in the New Territories” speech remains one of the most significant maiden speeches in the history of the Senate. Not only was it his first address to the Senate, it was also one of his two most influential orations during a twelve-year legislative career. Delivered on March 11, 1850, it immediately established Seward as a major national antislavery leader. Seward's clear and compelling arguments, supported by such authorities as Edmund Burke, Montesquieu, and Machiavelli, made this an oration to be taken very seriously.


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