Founders Day speaker honors William H. Seward: Author Walter Stahr spoke about 1820 Union alumnus Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State

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By Meghan Creane

Many, if not all, Union students, have heard of Founders Day, whether through the e-mails from President Stephen Ainlay or simply by word-of-mouth. What many students don’t seem to know is what exactly Founders Day is.

Though William H. Seward is a famous  Union alumnus, when asked about the subject of the guest speaker, one student, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Wait you mean there’s a guy coming to talk to the school about Seward Street? Why?”

Ainlay is very familiar with Founders Day, a day that is rumored to be his favorite day at Union.

When asked about the rumors, Ainlay explained that he does love Founders Day, but that he would be hard pressed not to mention “commencement and the days leading up to it as one of the best and most emotional times at Union.”

This year’s Founders Day was particularly special to the self-proclaimed “history buff,” since it revolved around one of the most well known Union alumni, William Seward, class of 1820.

This year’s Founders Day guest speaker, Walter Stahr, recently composed a biography of Seward, entitled Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man.

As Ainlay mentioned, the book mentions Union “within the first 10 pages.”

One of Ainlay’s personal favorite stories about Seward encompasses the closeness between Lincoln and Seward.

“Seward was badly injured in a carriage accident and was bed-ridden…so when Lincoln came back from Richmond to discuss what had happened there with his friend [Seward], Lincoln laid in bed with Seward with his elbow on the pillow so he could be eye-to-eye with [him].”

Founders Day was, as Ainlay assured, “a funny thing where these emotions are all there, there’s a sense of pride and a sense of connectedness.” Stahr’s passion for Seward was clear as he discussed the importance of Seward to the Lincoln administration and how Union shaped “Lincoln’s indispensable man.”

Stahr was content with how Founders Day went and he was thrilled to have spoken about Seward “at a place that he loved so much and to a group of people who all know who he is…it’s a bunch of people are just really excited about Seward.’

Stahr hopes that people walked out of Founders Day “moved to read some bits of [his book] to get a better sense of who this person [Seward] was.” He also hopes that on a larger scale students of Union College will realize that their “education comes with a price tag…not the dollars and cents that parents pay but to do something with your life and Seward had a sense of that.” Stahr wants students to use Seward’s life as an inspiration to show them “you should not dream small dreams, you can do big things.”

 

Many, if not all, Union students, have heard of Founders Day, whether through the e-mails from President Stephen Ainlay or simply by word-of-mouth. What many students don’t seem to know is what exactly Founders Day is.

Though William H. Seward is a famous Union alumnus, when asked about the subject of the guest speaker, one student, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Wait you mean there’s a guy coming to talk to the school about Seward Street? Why?”

Ainlay is very familiar with Founders Day, a day that is rumored to be his favorite day at Union.

When asked about the rumors, Ainlay explained that he does love Founders Day, but that he would be hard pressed not to mention “commencement and the days leading up to it as one of the best and most emotional times at Union.”

This year’s Founders Day was particularly special to the self-proclaimed “history buff,” since it revolved around one of the most well known Union alumni, William Seward, class of 1820.

This year’s Founders Day guest speaker, Walter Stahr, recently composed a biography of Seward, entitled Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man.

As Ainlay mentioned, the book mentions Union “within the first 10 pages.”

One of Ainlay’s personal favorite stories about Seward encompasses the closeness between Lincoln and Seward.

“Seward was badly injured in a carriage accident and was bed-ridden…so when Lincoln came back from Richmond to discuss what had happened there with his friend [Seward], Lincoln laid in bed with Seward with his elbow on the pillow so he could be eye-to-eye with [him].”

Founders Day, as Ainlay assured, was “a funny thing where these emotions are all there, there’s a sense of pride and a sense of connectedness.” Stahr’s passion for Seward was clear as he discussed the importance of Seward to the Lincoln administration and how Union shaped “Lincoln’s indispensable man.”

Stahr was content with how Founders Day went and he was thrilled to have spoken about Seward “at a place that he loved so much and to a group of people who all know who he is…it’s a bunch of people are just really excited about Seward.”

Stahr hopes that people walked out of Founders Day “moved to read some bits of [his book] to get a better sense of who this person [Seward] was.” He also noted that the book is available in Schaffer Library.

He also hopes that on a larger scale students of Union will realize that their “education comes with a price tag…not the dollars and cents that parents pay, but to do something with your life, and Seward had a sense of that.”

Stahr wants students to use Seward’s life as an inspiration to show them “you should not dream small dreams, you can do big things.”

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