Lewis Cass and the Politics of Moderation

By Willard Carl Klunder | Go to book overview
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Chapter Nine
United States Senator (1849-1857): "Life Is a Compromise...From the Cradle to the Grave"

LEWIS CASS encountered strong opposition in his bid to return to the United States Senate following the election of 1849. At stake was the seat he resigned after being nominated for the presidency. Although Michigan staunchly backed Cass in the campaign, a growing number of Democrats embraced the free soil philosophy. Michigan antislavery men had begun to organize during the 1830s, in an attempt to aid fugitive slaves and further the cause of abolition, but the real impetus for concerted political action came in the late 1840s. The notorious Crosswhite case served as a catalyst.

By 1846, an estimated one hundred escaped slaves were settled in central Michigan. Six of the fugitives -- Adam Crosswhite, his wife, and four children -- lived outside of Marshall. The Crosswhites were the property of Frank Giltner of Carroll County, Kentucky, who authorized his grandson, Francis Troutman, to apprehend them. In January 1847, Troutman and three other Kentuckians solicited the services of Deputy Sheriff Harvey Dickson and proceeded to the Crosswhite residence, where they kicked in a door and seized the fugitives. Meanwhile, the alarm was sounded throughout the community that slave catchers were afoot, and hundreds of residents responded to prevent the return of the family to slavery. With the situation becoming uncontrollable, Dickson arrested Troutman on charges of assault and trespass. Troutman was subsequently fined one hundred dollars and court costs.


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