Wikipedia:Peer review/William H. Seward/archive1

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William H. Seward[edit]


* Further information

This peer review discussion has been closed.
I've listed this article for peer review because… I plan to take it to FAC in due course and would be grateful for comments.

Thanks, Wehwalt (talk) 21:40, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Image review[edit]

I've done the first one. You might want to take a look at the licensing, I'm not certain on that.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:24, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
It looks fine to me. I think we should put the uncropped Brady in as well - a major photographer is always worth including. I'd also consider the salt-paper print, particularly as "Each item includes subject's original signature in ink." - meaning that gives us Seward's signature as well. Adam Cuerden (talk) 20:26, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Where is the uncropped Brady? We have the signature in the infobox.--Wehwalt (talk) 07:44, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
File:William_Seward,_Secretary_of_State,_bw_photo_portrait_circa_1860-1865.jpg is almost the uncropped Brady. I suspect we'd be best off recropping from (By the way, just a suspicion, but I think this may have originally been intended to be oval-mounted given the composition; don't think we should try and fake that, though.) Adam Cuerden (talk) 12:20, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
So uncropped or recropped?--Wehwalt (talk) 12:38, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd crop the junk around the edge, you know, the frame and the big white thing that has no detail under it, but keep as much of the photo proper as exists. Adam Cuerden (talk) 14:36, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
How's File:Seward by Brady.tif?--Wehwalt (talk) 15:24, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
Henry Inman painting of Seward; companion to the Frances Seward image. Presumably also 1844
I've lost one of them. The one you mention is from 1859, in his second term. I've included it. He really aged in those few years ...--Wehwalt (talk) 07:44, 29 August 2014 (UTC)
  • File:WSeward.png - this is a copyvio: PD-Art only applies to two-dimensional works, so the frame must be cropped. (I think we're safe enough on the Inman images as the frame there is flat with no detail.)
I know. I've been meaning to crop it.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:48, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
  • For the Emancipation Proclamation painting, it might be worth considering this engraving based on the painting: instead of a rather bad reproduction of the original. But one could argue either way.
That's actually rather interesting. It's a point I omitted in the article, but it's not the engraving being based on the painting, it is the painting being based on the engraving. And they are not the same. Look at them both carefully. Lincoln is much more the center of attention in the painting, and the pen has been transported from an inkwell by Seward's hand, to Lincoln's own hand. The engraving was published first, and Lincoln's friends objected to he and Seward being portrayed as co-equals, basically, so when it went up on the wall of the Capitol, Lincoln became very much first among unequals. I may hijack them both for the legacy section.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:08, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Can you upload the tif? My browser keeps giving me an error when I try to do anything with it.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:26, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
I'll sort it out. Adam Cuerden (talk) 15:43, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
While that shows Seward, and Lincoln for that matter, it would take too much explaining for a caption.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:48, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Really? What about "In an allegory for the Fugitive Slave Act, John A. Logan, c. 1859, stops Seward, Lincoln and Charles Sumner from interfering with escaped slaves being returned to their masters. Puck, 1864." - I'd imagine it'd take a little research to get the wording precisely correct, but I don't think it's impossible. Adam Cuerden (talk) 08:08, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
I'll play with it. Good idea. I'll work on the images later in the day.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:06, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Could you also upload that? I'm getting the sam error from Safari.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:02, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Doing restorations before uploading. Might take a little bit. About a third through the first. Adam Cuerden (talk) 22:38, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Cheers, Adam Cuerden (talk) 00:29, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Comments from Brianboulton[edit]

Opening batch. I will do as much as I can before my disappearance (temporary) after Saturday 13th

  • The lead is seems a model of its kind: short, succinct and informative
Early life
  • "Seward did well, becoming a star student, elected to Phi Beta Kappa." Two points here. First, the syntax is wrong without "and was" before elected. Secondly, "did well, becoming a star student" could easily be condensed, e.g. "Seward was a star student"
I gather Dank took a swing at it and I've tweaked it as well.
  • "short on cash" → "short of cash" – though perhaps the former is normal AmEng usage
  • offered a job in developing Putnam County" – it's not clear whether "developing" is being used as a verb (i.e. the job was to help develop Putnam County) or an an adjective describing the natute of the County. I suspect the latter, but maybe a rephrase would make this clear.
  • "treated with hospitality" doesn't sound quite right, maybe "received hospitably" or some such formulation
Both done.
Early career... etc
  • "they shared a belief that government policies should favor development". Can this be more precise – economic developmnt? territorial development, etc?
  • Some tense confusion in the second para. A couple of "would becomes" follwed by a "were", all describing future events. In my view the final sentence is a rather premature summary of the Seward-Weed relationship and could be left out here.
I gave the latter point a lot of thought, and Seward's entire life revolved around his defeat by Lincoln. When something happens which foreshadows that moment, I want to point it out. That moment is a crucial one in American history.
  • "once he was elected president" → "after he was elected president"
State senator... etc
  • "including meeting former vice president Aaron Burr, reduced to making a living as a somewhat shady attorney" – again, something missing from thr syntax, e.g. "whom he found", or "who was", before "reduced..." (it may be worth hearing a little more of Mr Burr, some day)
I'll put it on the list, behind Mr. Agnew. My, these vice presidents!--Wehwalt (talk) 23:43, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
It's possible that American English is more liberal when it comes to omitting such words. Still, I'll make the furriners feel at home, eh?--Wehwalt (talk) 00:21, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
  • "In preparation for the 1834 election, the Whigs met in Utica to determine a gubernatorial candidate". You should specify "the New York Whigs".
  • "Weed procured Seward's victory at the Utica convention" – "nomination", rather than victory
  • "That year, William and Frances Seward undertook a lengthy trip..." That wording makes them sound like totally different people, particularly as Seward is mentioned in the previous sentence. Why not "he and his wife"?
  • Governor of New York
  • "At the time, New York City's public schools were run by a Protestant group, and used Protestant texts, including the King James Bible. Seward believed the current system was a barrier to literacy..." It is not clear to this reader why "Protestant texts", whatever they may be, or the King James Bible, were "barriers to literacy"
I suppose if Catholic parents declined to allow their children to read them, they would be.
  • "Although the Assembly..." clarify "state Assembly"
I'm not sure there's an ambiguity here.
  • "Seward did not campaign in person, following the custom of the time" – latter clause unnecesary, as this point was made concerning the 1838 election
  • "his name would never again pass before the voters" – a rather orotund way of saying that he never again ran for elective office.
It's phrased to avoid the Senate, where he was elected twice, but his name did not per se pass before the voters.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:43, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
  • I wonder if the events of the final paragraph in this section are really worthy of inclusion? In the general sweep of history, this seems a minor matter, and Seward's part in it seems marginal. And this is a long article...
It foreshadows Seward's firmness in dealing with the British as secretary of state, and tells the reader that he had some experience of foreign affairs beyond traveling in Europe.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:59, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

More anon Brianboulton (talk) 16:21, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

Done up to here. Thanks for the review.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:59, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Second batch
Out of office
  • "As governor, Seward incurred considerable debt": suggest "As governor, Seward incurred considerable personal debt"
  • The way this first sentence is presently written, you need to delete the words "not only". Otherwise, the "and" must become "but also"
  • "was charged in the stabbing death of a fellow inmate" – rather imprecise. "...was charged with stabbing to death a fellow inmate" would be unequivocal
  • "In the Freeman case, involving mental illness..." – "which involved"?
  • "Seward supported the winner" – at this point, the "eventual nominee"
  • Mainly to clarify for the benefit of non-US readers, I suggesta slide prose amemdment thus: "...the split in the New York Democratic Party allowed the Whigs to capture the legislature, which until 1913 elected the state's two United States Senators. One of these senatorial seats was due to be be filled by the new legislature".
US Senator: first term
  • "and many Seward adherents appointed to federal office in New York were replaced by Fillmore". There is a hint of ambiguity in this wording which would be solved by a minor rearranged: "and Fillmore replaced many Seward adherents appointed to federal office in New York."
  • I am confused the final sentence: "The bill passed into law, but northerners felt they had found a standard around which they could rally, while those in the South believed they should have an equal stake through slavery in the territories their blood and money had helped secure". The two halves, connected by "while", do not seem concomitant.
Second term
  • "In September 1855, the New York Whig and Republican parties held simultaneous conventions that quickly merged into one." If this describes the birth of the Republican Party, could this point be made a little more directly?
No, that happened the year before, supposedly in Ripon, Wisconsin.--20:24, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
  • "In his speech on March 3..." Perhaps say where this speech was made?
  • "...damaged his chances of gaining the nomination" – maybe "the presidential nomination".
Candidate for the nomination
  • Suggest we combine the first two paras thus: "Seward returned to Washington in January 1860 to find controversy:" The word "that" which follows is unnecessary
  • "which most praised" – most senators, or most generally?
Either.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:24, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
  • "prohibititive favourite" will puzzle UK readers; the word is not used in the sense intended here. Why not just "strong", or even "overwhelming"?
Campaigning for Lincoln
  • Are "embarrassed" and "constrained" contemporary descriptions – if so, from whom?
Contemporary reportage, I gather. I doubt it's worth primary sourcing.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:32, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
  • The words "Even then", in the final paragraph, seem unnecessary.

Brianboulton (talk) 22:24, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Done or responded to to date.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:36, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Another batch

(as far as the assassination)

Secession crisis
  • For clarification: "[Seward] had hoped to remain at home until the New Year, but with the deepening crisis left for Washington in time for the new session of Congress in early December." This implies that, but for the secession crisis, he would have skipped the new session of Congress. Is that the case?
Yes, senators often absented themselves for periods of time, especially early in the session. Most votes that I've read have a fair number of non-attendees.
  • "At the time, the leader of the political party that had won the White House was often offered the position of Secretary of State..." – this may well confuse UK readers, who assume that the leader of the party that wins an election takes the top job. Thus it might be better to refer to him as "the senior figure" (or some such) rather than the "leader".
  • "This was down at Lincoln's private request" – do you mean "done"?
  • "There were many such proposals" – from where/whom? Not all from Lincoln, presumably?
  • " expand from the states that permitted it". Perhaps "that currently permitted it".
  • "Lincoln travelled" → "traveled" per US spelling?
  • "It is unclear if Seward met him at the station; he may have overslept and met Lincoln at the Willard Hotel" – inessential detail, surely removable?
Secretary of State: Lincoln administration
  • "Although Lincoln did send a notification..." → "Although Lincoln sent a notification..."
  • "...but the British prevented it" – not clear what the British prevented, or how.
  • Link Lord Russell, and add that he was Britain's foreign minister
  • I don't understand the "nevertheless" in the third para of the "Diplomacy" subsection
  • Link Lord Lyons, and say who he was
  • The final paragraph of "Diplomacy" seems to have little to do with diplomacy!
I don't see that. The British were prepared to accept the convenient excuse that the boats were for use in the French' more wild Eastern Colonies.
  • "planned to gather to pass" → "planned to pass" – but how do these plans relate to this section?
  • The quote attributed to Frederick Seward needs closing quote marks. I confess I am unable to understand the relevance of the quote.
The point is the actions Lincoln was prepared to take in violation of normal civil liberties.
  • "One story is that when he was told that to deny Carl Schurz an office would disappoint him..." – there is slight confusion as to whom "he" and "him" refer to.
  • Re "the Lincoln boys", perhaps say "the two younger Lincoln boys" (and didn't William die quite early in Lincoln's first term?)
Yes, in 1862, which allowed Seward plenty of time to know him
  • Presumably, Francis Preston Blair didn't go to Richmond on his own initiative. Was this Lincoln's idea, or Seward's?
Assassination attempt
  • "delivering medicine to the injured secretary" – Seward was injured before the assassination attempt?

That's as far as I can take it before my Swedish trip. If you want to nominate at FAC before I can return to the review, that's fine – I will pick up any aoustanding points there. Brianboulton (talk) 18:31, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

All clarified or responded to. Enjoy your Swedish extravangaza.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:11, 20 September 2014 (UTC)
I'm back!

And here are my comments on the final sections:

Johnson administration
  • "repudiation of the Confederate war debt" – what, precisely, did this condition require the southern states to do? ("repudiate" = refusal to accept)
  • How is a presidential veto overridden? Is it a question of time, numbers or both?
  • "Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Bill, granting citizenship to the freedmen." The comma alters the meaning; it reads as though granting citizen ship was a consequence of Johnson's veto. I suspect the meaning is "Johnson vetoed the Civil Rights Bill which proposed granting citizenship to the freedmen" – am I correct?
  • "Johnson hoped to elect congressmen who agreed with him in the 1866 midterm elections" – what powers did Johnson possess to "elect congressmen"? Surely that was down to the voters? Is it "Johnson campaigned for the election of congressmen who agreed with him..." etc
  • "When Stanton refused..." – It is not clear what Stanton refused, nor why he was suspended and then fired.
  • "When this became an issue in the United States, Seward would use strident language publicly, but be conciliatory privately toward the French." Awkward mixture of tenses - perhaps: "When this became an issue in the United States, Seward used strident language publicly, but was privately conciliatory toward the French."
  • "Although in speeches Seward had predicted all of North America joining the Union, Seward had, as a senator, opposed the Gadsden Purchase, obtaining land from Mexico, and Buchanan's attempts to purchase Cuba from Spain." Second "Seward" should be "he"; comma after "Gadsden Purchase" should be deleted as it alters the meaning.
  • In the last paragraph of the Alaska section there is some unnecessarily muddlesome detail. I see no value in "The Senate was to adjourn that day; Seward hoped the treaty might be ratified, but this was not possible, and he had Johnson summon the Senate into special session to approve it".
1868 election, retirement, and death
  • "Despite Seward's attempts to persuade him, Johnson and his Cabinet spent the morning of March 4, 1869 at the White House..." Something missing after "to persuade him", otherwise the sentence can't be understood.
  • Concerning Brigham Young, it would help if you added "as a carpenter" (or some such) after "who had worked"
  • I don't think the term "May–December romance" is encyclopedic – OK in a romantic novel, but strikes a slightly prurient note here. You may also wish to clarify whether the adoption went through, which is unclear from the present wording.
Legacy and historical view
  • It would be interesting to know when Paolino made his judgment
  • "Seward has been given high marks..." etc. By whom – historians?
  • "Despite being an ardent supporter of American expansionism, only Alaska was added to United States territory during Seward's service as Secretary of State." Does not parse as given; needs "his" after "Despite"
  • "Despite being an ardent supporter of American expansionism..." – well, on and off it seems (see first para of "Territorial expansion and Alaska" section. And, although it makes neat reading, is it really established that Fish, Everts and Hay were acting under the influence of Seward when they accomplished the territorial gains mentioned?
Stahr seemed to think so. I have personal doubts, but so state the sources.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:30, 23 September 2014 (UTC)
  • "Stahr believed that Seward's influence is still felt today" - "believed" and "today" don't go together. Since Stahr's book was published in 2012, I think it's safe to say "believes"--Wehwalt (talk) 02:30, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

That concludes my comments on this highly instructive article which covers a lot of interesting US history. Could do with a little careful pruning – but I always say that, don't I? I hope my comments are helpful. Brianboulton (talk) 23:21, 20 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your review. I did do some pruning. I just find it hard to boil down a man of such significance into a procrustean space.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:30, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

Comments from Dank[edit]

  • As always, feel free to revert my copyediting.
  • "He was successful in preventing Britain and France from intervening in the conflict, that might have led to the independence of the Confederate States.": Did you mean a semicolon instead of a comma? If not, I can't parse this. Also, I don't think it was in his power to single-handedly "prevent" Britain and France from doing anything; perhaps he successfully lobbied them?
  • "born in Florida, New York": I'd go with "born in the city of Florida, New York"
  • "small community.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:59, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
  • I don't see any reason you can't take this to FAC, judging from the first few sections. These are my edits. - Dank (push to talk) 21:26, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the review and suggestions.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:59, 10 September 2014 (UTC)