Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation

By Willard Carl Klunder | Go to book overview
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Chapter Four
Minister to France (1836-1842): "I Have Presumed that I Express the Feelings of the American Government and People"

WITH HIS appointment as United States minister to France in the autumn of 1836, Lewis Cass commenced a challenging phase of his multifaceted career. He and his family, accompanied by Henry Ledyard, who served as personal secretary to the minister, embarked for Europe on the Quebec in October, anxious to cross the Atlantic before the winter storms. After a brief stay in London to ascertain that a French minister had been selected for Washington, the Casses arrived in Paris and settled in a residence on the Champs Élysées. The backlog of official business that had accumulated during the suspension of relations between the United States and France was soon discharged, and Cass arranged for interest payments on the twenty-five million francs indemnity, thereby bringing the spoliation claims controversy to a satisfactory conclusion.

Cass was instrumental in restoring cordial relations with the French government. He proved to be an accomplished diplomat -- at least, when not dealing with his old bugbear, Great Britain -- and quickly established a warm and harmonious relationship with the French monarch. Louis Philippe, the "citizen king" who ascended the throne by vote of the Chamber of Deputies after the July Revolution of 1830, had spent several years in the United States and styled himself a republican ruler. The king faced opposition from Bourbon royalists, liberal republicans, and Bonapartist supporters of Louis Napoleon; politically motivated insurrections were commonplace. Cass witnessed one such disturbance during the Days of

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