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Fred Seaton

Photograph of Fred SeatonNewspaperman, politician, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 1956-61. Born: December 11, 1909, Washington, D.C.  Died: Janaury 16,  1974, Minneapolis, Minneapolis.

Frederick Andrew Seaton was born on December 11, 1909, in Washington, D. C., where his father worked for U. S. Senator from Kansas, Joseph L. Bristow. At the age of six, he moved with his family to Manhattan, Kansas, where his father published the Manhattan Mercury and later the Manhattan Chronicle.

After graduating from Kansas State University in 1931, Seaton joined his father's newspaper business, advancing from wire news editor of the Manhattan Morning Chronicle to the city editor of the Manhattan Mercury to associate editor of Seaton Publications. In 1937 he moved to Hastings, Nebraska, where he published one of the Seaton family's new acquisitions, the Daily Tribune. He transformed the financially ailing paper into a first rate, profitable business. He was the first Nebraska publisher to use wire photos and the only one to have three wire services. He also initiated progressive personnel practices.

Seaton was always interested in Republican politics. He held numerous offices within the party and was Alfred Landon's secretary during the 1936 presidential campaign. In Nebraska, Seaton served two terms in the state's unicameral legislature and was appointed to the U. S. Senate following the death of Senator Kenneth Wherry. He worked on Eisenhower's first presidential campaign and served in several positions during Eisenhower's administration, including assistant secretary of defense and deputy assistant to the president. In 1956 he was appointed U. S. Secretary of the Interior and remained in that office through Eisenhower's presidency.

As Secretary of the Interior, Seaton advocated cooperative long-range planning between federal and local governments and private enterprise for the development of natural resources. He encouraged continued growth of the hydrogenerating program in the Pacific Northwest. Always a strong advocate of conservation, he promoted the most comprehensive long-range program of park development to that time.

After leaving Washington in 1961, Seaton returned to Nebraska and to the Seaton newspapers. He was very active in civic affairs and received numerous awards and honors. He died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on January 16, 1974.

Entry: Seaton, Fred

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 2004

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.