Frances Seward (1805-1865)

Original influencer, fierce antislavery advocate, women’s rights activist

We like to think of Frances Seward as an early (early, early) influencer. As a woman of power and importance – her husband was William Henry Seward, a New York governor, U.S. senator, secretary of state, and close friend of Abraham Lincoln – she used her influence to lift up others. Fiercely independent and an activist at heart, Frances carved out a striking legacy all her own. She was integral to the effort to secure property-rights protections for married women, which was a key first step in winning the right to vote. She fought for equality in all of its forms, working tirelessly to advance the twin causes of abolition and women’s rights, even turning her girlhood home at 33 South Street into a stop on the Underground Railroad. She developed a strong bond with Harriet Tubman and played a key role in selling her a house nearby. Frances is buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, along with Harriet and another Top Trailblazer, Martha Coffin Wright.

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