Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic
biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biographyplease
submit a rewritten biography in text form.
If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century
Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor
Virtual American Biographies
Over 30,000 personalities
with thousands of 19th Century illustrations, signatures, and exceptional life
welcomes editing and additions to the
biographies. To become this site's editor or a contributor
or e-mail Virtualology here.
CASS, Lewis, statesman, born in Exeter. New Hampshire, 9 October, 1782; died in Detroit, Michigan, 17 June, 1866. He was the eldest son of Jonathan Cass, who at the age of nineteen entered the Continental army, and served throughout the revolution, attaining the rank of captain. After the conclusion of peace he received a commission in the army as major, and was assigned to duty under General Wayne in the territory northwest of the Ohio, his family remaining at Exeter. During this time Lewis was attending the academy in his native town. In 1799 the family removed toWilmington, Del., where Maj. Cass was temporarily stationed, and where Lewis became a school-teacher. The next year the family migrated westward, traveling partly on foot and partly by boat, and reaching Marietta, the pioneer town of southern Ohio, in October. Maj. Cass settled upon a tract of land, granted him by the government for his military services, on Muskin-gum river, near Zanesville, while Lewis remained at Marietta to study law in the office of Governor Meigs. In 1S03 he was admitted to the bar, and began practice in Zanesville. His abilities as a jurist and pleader were speedily manifest, and soon secured him a lucrative business and a wide reputation in the thinly settled district north of the Ohio. Becoming well established in his profession, in 1806 he married Elizabeth Spencer, of Virginia, and shortly afterward entered upon his public career as a member of the Ohio legislature. Being placed on the committee instituted to inquire into the supposed treasonable movements of Aaron Burr, he framed the law that enabled the authorities to arrest the men and boats provided for the expedition down the river. He also drew up the official communication to the president embodying the views of the Ohio legislature on the subject. The marked ability of this document attracted Mr. Jefferson's attention, and in 1807) Cir. Cass was appointed marshal of the state, a place which he filled until 1818. At the beginning of the second war with England he joined the forces at Dayton under General Hull, and was made colonel of the 3d Ohio volunteers. He commanded the advanced guard when the army crossed from Detroit into Canada, drew up the proclamation addressed by the general to the inhabitant~, and commanded the detachment that drove in the British outposts at the bridge of Aux Canards. Shortly after this Col. Cass was included in the capitulation known as Hull's surrender, and, being paroled, hastened to Washington, full of indignation against Hull, and made the first report of the affair to the United States government. After being exchanged he was appointed to the 27th regiment of infantry, and was shortly promoted to brigadier-general. He took part in the defeat of the British under General Proctor, at the battle of the Thames in Canada, 5 October, 1813. At the close of the campaign he was left in command of Michigan, with his headquarters at Detroit, and almost immediately was appointed civil governor of the territory, in 1814 he was associated with General Harrison in a commission to treat with the Indians, who had been hostile to the United States during the war. The number of white inhabitants in the territory was scarcely 6,000 ; no land had been sold by the United States, and the interior was a vast wilderness, the abode, it was estimated, of 40,000 savages. Settlers could not obtain sure titles to their locations, no surveys had been made, no roads opened inland, and the savages were relentless in their hostility to the whites. Under these discouraging circumstances Cass assumed the responsibilities of governor, and ex o~cio superintendent of Indian affairs, his jurisdiction extending over the whole territory. During eighteen years his management of Indian affairs was governed by remarkable wisdom and prudence. He negotiated twenty-two distinct treaties, securing the cession to the United States. by the various tribes, of the immense regions of the northwest, instituted surveys, constructed roads, established military works, built light-houses along the lake shore, organized counties and Townships, and, in short, created and set in motion all the machinery of civilized government. In the administration of the extensive financial trusts incident, to his position, Governor Cass displayed the most scrupulous honesty, never permitting even the small sum allowed him by the government for contingent expenses to be transferred to his private account until the vouchers had been formally signed and transmitted to Washington. As yet the northwestern territory was imperfectly known, and at his suggestion an expedition was planned in 1820, in which he himself bore a conspicuous part. Accompanied by the ethnologist, School-craft, and six other gentlemen, with Indian guides, they left Detroit in three canoes, for the exploration of the upper lakes and the head-waters of the Mississippi, and traversed 5,000 miles before their return. The results of this and subsequent expeditions were published in the "North American Review" in 1828-'9, and added not a little to the fame of the author. In 1831, when President Jackson reconstructed his cabinet, Cass was appointed secretary of war, and cordially approved all the distinctive features of that administration. During his incumbency the Black Hawk war occurred, and was vigorously suppressed. The Indian question, too, passed through a dangerous crisis in the removal of the Cherokees from their hereditary lands in Georgia and Mississippi. In the nullification troubles of 1832, the nullifiers derived no benefit from his presence in the war department. in 18;~6 General Cass submitted a celebrated report to congress upon the military and naval defenses of the United States, embracing an elaborate summary of existing resources, both offensive and defensive. He recommended the erection of a strong chain of coast fortifications, and the maintenance of a powerful navy. Shortly after this, finding his health impaired, he resigned his secretaryship, and was appointed United States minister to France. The diplomatic relations between the two countries were at that time in a critical condition, owing to complications regarding the spoliation claims.
General Cass temporarily settled the matter by payment of interest. His most important act as minister was his vigorous protest against the quintuple treaty, whereby Britain sought to maintain the right of search on the high seas. Mainly owing to his representations, France refused to ratify the treaty. The protest, in pamphlet form~ had an enormous circulation, and the English were greatly incensed. Lord Brougham assailed him in parliament, and Cass replied very effectively in the senate. During an interval of his diplomatic duties he made a long voyage in the United States frigate "Constitution," visiting Constantinople and the Mediterranean ports. Resigning his mission to Y rance, he returned home in 1842, and was given a public welcome at New York and Philadelphia. The country was greatly excited over the annexation of Texas. He had been talked of as a democratic candidate for the presidency, and his opinions upon the important questions of the day were eagerly sought. In the democratic national convention of 1844, James K. Polk received the nomination, and was elected to the presidency in the following November, Mr. Cass cordially supporting him throughout the canvass. In January, 1845, he was elected to the United States senate, which place he resigned on his nomination, in May, 1848, as democratic candidate for the presidency. After the election of his opponent, General Taylor, he was, in 1849, re-elected to the senate for the unexpired portion of his original term of six years. Here he wielded a powerful influence. He was a strong advocate of compromise, became the chief ally of Henry Clay, and opposed both the southernrights dogmas and the Wilmot proviso. The latter of these he had been instructed by the legislature to support; but he declared in the senate that he should resign his seat in case of a direct conflict between his duty and his principles. Originally General Cass was the most prominent candidate for the chairmanship of the committee of thirteen, but himself urged the appointment of Mr. Clay to that place. The passage of the resolution constituting that committee was, by the testimony of its mover, Henry S. Foote, chiefly due to his prompting and assistance. He supported the various measures that it originated, save the fugitive-slave law, on the passage of which, in the senate, he declined to vote, though present in his seat. Being re-elected a senator from Michigan for a second term of six years from March, 1851, he still continued a prominent democratic candidate for the presidency, but, in 1852, as in 1844, he was unsuccessful. This defeat terminated General Cass's aspirations for the chief magistracy, and he remained a member of the senate until the expiration of his term. In 1857, when Mr. Buchanan entered upon his administration, General Cass accepted the office of secretary of state. In the secession movements that followed Mr. Lincoln's election, he was, as in 1850, a friend of compromise, sustaining what were then known as the Crittenden resolutions. President Buchanan's message, denying the existence of any power in the constitution by which the general government can coerce a state, was not openly disapproved by Mr. Cass in the cabinet meeting where it was first read. Eight days afterward, however, he re-asserted the Jacksonian principles of 1832-'3, and, when Mr. Buchanan refused to re-enforce Maj. Anderson and reprovision Fort Sumter, he promptly resigned. His resignation terminated a public career of fifty-six years' duration. After that period he mingled little in society, save in the exercise of the hospitalities of his own home. During the civil war his sympathies were with the national arms.
General Cass was a man of great natural abilities CASSERLY and it was a great satisfaction to him that his life was spared to see the ultimate triumph of the government over a rebellion that for a time threatened its existence and it was a great satisfaction to him that his life was spared to see the ultimate triumph of the government over a rebellion that for a time threatened its existence. General Cass was a man of great natural abilities, a prudent, cautious legislator, a scholar of fine attainments, of the purest integrity, temperate in all his habits, and personally popular throughout the country. His wealth was largely the result of his fortunate original investment in• real estate; but the steady increase of his property in value was also due to able management His published works are "Inquiries concerning the History, Traditions, and Languages of the Indians living within the United States" (Detroit, 1823); "France, its King, Court, and Government" (New York, 1840). See "Lewis Cass, Outlines of his Life and Character," by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (Albany, 1848); "Sketches of the Life and Public Services of Lewis Cass," by William T Young (De- troit, 1852); "Life and Times of Lewis Cass," by W. L. G. Smith (New York, 1856); and a memorial volume (Detroit, 1866.) His son, Lewis, was appointed charge d'affaires to the papal states in 1849, and in 1854 Was pi'om0ted to be United States minister resident in Italy, where he remained until 1858.
This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected,
associated with or authorized by the individual, family,
friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or
the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated
sites that are related to this subject will be hyper
linked below upon submission
and Evisum, Inc. review.
Please join us in our mission to incorporate America's Four United Republics discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The
People. Click Here