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Cass, Lewis, 1782-1866

 

Dates

  • Existence: 1782 - 1866

Lewis Cass (October 9, 1782 – June 17, 1866) was an American military officer, politician, and statesman. He represented Michigan in the United States Senate and served in the Cabinets of two U.S. Presidents, Andrew Jackson and James Buchanan. He was also the 1848 Democratic presidential nominee and a leading spokesman for the Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, which held that the people in each territory should decide whether to permit slavery.Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, he attended Phillips Exeter Academy before establishing a legal practice in Zanesville, Ohio. After serving in the Ohio House of Representatives, he was appointed as a U.S. Marshal. Cass also joined the Freemasons and would eventually co-found the Grand Lodge of Michigan. He fought at the Battle of the Thames in the War of 1812 and was appointed to govern Michigan Territory in 1813. He negotiated treaties with Native Americans to open land for American settlement and led a survey expedition into the northwest part of the territory. Cass resigned as governor in 1831 to accept appointment as Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson. As Secretary of War, he helped implement Jackson's policy of Indian removal. After serving as ambassador to France from 1836 to 1842, he unsuccessfully sought the presidential nomination at the 1844 Democratic National Convention; a deadlock between supporters of Cass and former President Martin Van Buren ended with the nomination of James K. Polk. In 1845, the Michigan Legislature elected Cass to the Senate, where he served until 1848. Cass's nomination at the 1848 Democratic National Convention precipitated a split in the party, as Cass's advocacy for popular sovereignty alienated the anti-slavery wing of the party. Van Buren led the Free Soil Party's presidential ticket and appealed to many anti-slavery Democrats, possibly contributing to the victory of Whig nominee Zachary Taylor. Cass returned to the Senate in 1849 and continued to serve until 1857 when he accepted appointment as the Secretary of State. He unsuccessfully sought to buy land from Mexico and sympathized with American filibusters in Latin America. Cass resigned from the Cabinet in December 1860 in protest of Buchanan's handling of the threatened secession of several Southern states. Since his death in 1866, he has been commemorated in various ways, including with a statue in the National Statuary Hall.

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Daniel Webster letter

Webster Mss 833262
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 833262
Scope and Contents Two-page letter from Daniel Webster in Boston to Secretary of War Lewis Cass, telling him that as the US Senator from Massachusetts, Webster is still on good terms with Cass and inquires about possibility of Cass visting New England in summer of 1833.

John Bell letter

Mss 835678
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 835678
Overview In English.

Lewis Cass letter

Mss 832202
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 832202
Overview In English.

Lewis Cass letter

Mss 823418
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 823418
Overview In English.

Lewis Cass letter

Mss 838364
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 838364
Overview In English.

Lewis Cass letter

Webster Mss 841205
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 841205
Overview In English.