Willam Seward was a visionary man, a century ahead of times, not only in his eagerness to add Alaska to the territory of the United States, but in his extraordinary respect for Black people, whom he insisted, on the floor of the U,S, Senate were equal in every way to white people. He was ridiculed for what were considered outlandish and unpopular remarks. If he also upheld belief in “Manifest Destiny” he was simply a man of his time and culture, but in his views on race, he was a hundred years ahead. The treaty of sale he signed with the Russian government guaranteed U.S. citizenship to Alaska Natives (“except for the uncivilized tribes”) who then were to be subject to whatever laws Congress would pass. This is the basis for ANCSA, the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, passed 104 years later. (Never accuse Congress of dealing with any issue promptly!)We should be proud of Seward as an abolitionist who heroically upheld the dignity of all human beings.
I fully appreciate the contributions of Elizabeth Peratovich, too, by the way, but there is no need to take Seward down to make room for her. Let’s just have two statues and honor them both.