Lewis Cass statue in the U.S. Capitol | Susan J. Demas
Lewis Cass of Michigan on March 6, 1857, became U.S. Secretary of State.
Cass previously served as Michigan territorial governor from 1813 to 1831. He later had two stints in the U.S. Senate, from 1845 to 1848, and 1849 to 1857.
During his tenure as territorial governor, Cass helped President Andrew Jackson implement the policy of removing Native Americans, known as the Trail of Tears.
While in the U.S. Senate, Cass advocated for popular sovereignty, a pre-Civil War doctrine asserting the right of the people living in a newly organized territory to decide by vote of their territorial legislature whether or not slavery would be permitted there. Cass had been a slave owner.
He resigned as U.S. Secretary of State in December 1860 in protest of President James Buchanan’s handling of the threatened secession of several Southern states.
Cass died in 1866 at age 83. A Detroit high school is named in his honor. His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol.
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