Seward Had the Last Laugh

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

Seward’s Folly. That’s what they called it.

When William Seward, US Secretary of State, presided over the negotiations that led to the purchase of Alaska in 1867 for $7,200,000, many American newspapers mocked and ridiculed him. 

Fast forward almost 150 years, and I ask “who’s laughing now?”

William Seward’s ghost, that’s who. I can hear him chuckling as his purchase has yielded a tremendous bounty of gold, oil, salmon, and scenic cruises. Perhaps, like me, you were unaware that March 30 is Seward’s Day. Methinks it’s time to change our widespread ignorance. 

For not only was Seward responsible for adding Alaska’s vast glorious wilderness (twice the size of Texas) to our nation, but as Governor of and US Senator from New York from 1839 – 1861, he was an ardent abolitionist. He fiercely fought for the end of slavery, and even helped Harriet Tubman purchase property in Auburn, New York. Called “Lincoln’s Indispensable Man” by biographer Walter Stahr, clearly the reduction of Mr. Seward’s reputation to nothing more than the guy who bought Alaska is nothing short of an embarrassment to American educators.

Alaska has brought us a host of wonderful opportunities, but the remainder of this article is focused on two of the best things in life: fashion and food. 

If the image below is your idea of Alaskan fashion, I encourage you to think again.

Today, Alaska is alive with artists and designers, not the least of which is Holly Nordlum, whose kuspuk is all the rage. Seen below on Diana Valez, complete with aurora borealis eye shadow, it’s a functional, flattering, and fun top for women of all ages. Click the link to order one for yourself or your favorite female: Kuspuks-by-Chloe.

Once you’ve got your stylish Alaskan wear and you’ve had an enjoyable night out, don’t forget what is possibly the most famous food linked to Alaska. Though it did not originate in the great frozen land north of the lower 48, I dare say were it not for the acquisition of our 49th State, Delmonico’s Restaurant in NYC would have come up with another name. Somehow though, “Baked Antarctica” just doesn’t have the same ring.

This delicious desert, Baked Alaska, is the perfect blend. A sweet airy desert set ablaze tableside is the quintessential capper for a memorable evening. Enjoy the recipe in the link below for a strawberry chocolate blend that’s sure to delight!

Yes, Mr. Seward is surely delighting in all that’s happened since we bought Alaska from the Russians. Spread the word, broil some salmon and invite the neighbors – Seward did us all a favor. On March 30, celebrate and listen closely to hear him. Though many called it a folly, you can rest assured - William Seward had the last laugh.