Cass, Lewis

Cass, Lewis, 1782–1866, American statesman, b. Exeter, N.H. He established (1802) himself as a lawyer in Zanesville, Ohio, became a member (1806) of the state legislature, and was U.S. marshal for Ohio from 1807 to 1812. In the War of 1812, Cass's command was included against his will in the forces that Gen. William Hull surrendered to the British at Detroit in Aug., 1812. Cass later fought with distinction at the battle of the Thames (Oct. 5, 1813). Left in command at Detroit, Cass was also appointed governor of Michigan Territory, a post he filled ably for 18 years (1813–31). As Secretary of War (1831–36), he favored removal of the Native Americans beyond the Mississippi and supported President Jackson in the nullification crisis. Minister to France (1836–42) and U.S. Senator from Michigan (1845–48, 1849–57), Cass was the Democratic candidate for President in 1848, but because of the defection of the antislavery Democrats led by Martin Van Buren, who became the candidate of the Free-Soil party, he lost the election to the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor. President Buchanan made (1857) Cass his Secretary of State, but he resigned in Dec., 1860, in protest against the decision not to reinforce the forts of Charleston, S.C.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies