University of Rochester

Rochester Review
July-August 2009
Vol. 71, No. 6

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After Words

Special Collections Celebrating Statehood
afterwords FRONTIER FUTURE: The year 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of statehood for Alaska, and the 140th anniversary of a trip to the then frontier territory by William Henry Seward, the upstate New York native who served as secretary of state for Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. During an 1869 visit—just two years after Seward persuaded a reluctant Senate to buy the territory from Russia—the former secretary told the citizens of Sitka, Alaska, that the territory would one day be granted statehood. Ninety years later—on Jan. 3, 1959—Alaska formally became America’s 49th state. As part of his 1869 trip, Seward stopped in San Francisco, where he was presented with an engraved gold cigar box depicting Sitka on the front and scenes from a moose hunt on the back. The cigar box is part of the William Henry Seward Papers in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Rush Rhees Library. More about the collection. (Photo: University Libraries/Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation.)