Secretary of War (1831-1836): "An Amiable Talented Man"
LEWIS CASS took up the reins of the War Department in August 1831 and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate when it convened in December. President Jackson's revamped cabinet was a disparate group that included Secretary of State Edward Livingston, Louis McLane at the Treasury Department, Attorney General Roger Brooke Taney, and Secretary of the Navy Levi Woodbury. Postmaster General William Barry, the sole survivor from the original cabinet, was a staunch supporter of the president but an incompetent administrator. Taney demonstrated both loyalty and talents that made him indispensable to Jackson. Livingston was an intelligent, cogent writer but lacked basic political instincts. Woodbury, in contrast, was a consummate politician who frequently allied himself with McLane, Livingston, and Cass on major issues faced by the administration. It was McLane, a man of boundless political ambition, who was the driving force in this cabinet coalition. A former Federalist, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and minister to GreaBritain, McLane was an ardent supporter of the national bank and a close friend of its president, Nicholas Biddle. He quickly formed a personal and ideological bond with Lewis Cass, who shared his conservative sentiments.1
Cass's appointment was praised by military commanders and politicians from both sides of the political fence. His talents and experience were a good fit for the war office, and since he had not publicly participated in national party politics while governor of Michigan Territory,