Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation

By Willard Carl Klunder | Go to book overview

Chapter Two
Governor of Michigan Territory (1813-1831): "A More Consummate Politician... Will Rarely Be Found"

IT IS DIFFICULT to picture Lewis Cass as a robust young man; the more common image is of aged, phlegmatic "SenatorGass." But Cass was an enterprising man of only thirty-one years when appointed governor and ex officio superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan Territory. He leaped at the opportunity. It was clear by now that he was not cut out to follow in the martial footsteps of his father, and the governorship of Michigan Territory was a political plum for the former Ohio legislator and federal marshal. Cass modestly remarked he neither sought nor expected the appointment, convinced as he was that it resulted from "my peculiar situation"; nonetheless, he moved swiftly to secure Senate approval of his nomination. On the journey to Albany to testify at the court-martial of William Hull, General Cass paused at Fort Meigs to write Charles Larned, a political confidant in Detroit. Cass acknowledged the Senate might look with disfavor upon his holding both a military commission and a civil office, and he asked Larned to circulate a petition among Michigan residents supporting his appointment. Cass also called upon his longtime mentor, Ohio senator Thomas Worthington. Such persistence paid off. The nomination was confirmed, and shortly after Hull's trial, Cass resigned his military commission, thereby removing that barrier to civil office. The ambitious young man enthusiastically hitched his political fixture to that of Michigan Territory. It proved to be an astute

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