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 BurenVan Buren, Martin,
1782–1862, 8th President of the United States (1837–41), b. Kinderhook, Columbia co., N.Y. Early Career

He was reared on his father's farm, was educated at local schools, and after reading law was admitted (1803) to the bar.
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, who became the candidate of the Free-Soil partyFree-Soil party,
in U.S. history, political party that came into existence in 1847–48 chiefly because of rising opposition to the extension of slavery into any of the territories newly acquired from Mexico.
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, 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.
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Cass, Lewis

(1782–1866) soldier, U.S. senator, public official; born in Exeter, N.H. He practiced law in Ohio and served with distinction in the War of 1812, rising to brigadier general. He was the military and civil governor of the Michigan Territory (1813–31) and President Andrew Jackson's secretary of war (1831–36); in both offices he spent much of his time dealing with Native Americans. He was ambassador to France (1836–42) and a U.S. Senator (Dem., Mich.; 1845–48, 1849–57). A strong nationalist, he favored the Mexican War and was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for U.S. president in 1848. As secretary of state (1857–60) he secured from Great Britain an end to all search and seizure rights at sea. He resigned when President James Buchanan refused to respond decisively to South Carolina's secession and, having earlier supported compromise over slavery, called for support of the Union. His last years were spent writing accounts of his experiences.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.