William Henry Seward (1801-72) the US Secretary of State who persuaded the government to buy Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million. It became known as Seward's Folly because many people thought it was foolish to pay so much for such an empty, frozen region. Seward was Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln(1861-5) and survived a murder attempt when Lincoln was killed. He then became Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson(1865-9). A town in Alaska is named after him.