Lewis Cass was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, on the 9th day of October, 1782. His father, Major Jonathan Cass, was a soldier of the revolution, who enlisted as a private the day after the battle of Lexington. He served in the army till the close of the war, and was in all the important battles in the Eastern and Middle States, where he was distinguished for his valor and good conduct, and attained the rank of captain. He was afterwards a major in Wayne's army, and, after a life of usefulness and honor, died at an advanced age, at his residence near Dresden, in Muskingum county, Ohio. His son, Lewis Cass, the subject of this biography, emigrated, at the age of seventeen, to the then North-western Territory, and settled first at Marietta, in the county of Washington. He was thus, as he was recently called by the Convention of Ohio, one of the "early pioneers " of that immense western region, which has already risen to such a magnitude in our i own days, and is destined to attain one so much greater hereafter. The country north of the Ohio then contained one territory and about 20,000 people.
Mr. Cass bore his full share in the toils, privations, and dangers to which the defence of a new country, and its conversion from a primitive forest to the happy abodes of civilized man, are necessarily exposed. He read law at Marietta, and was admitted to the bar before the close of the territorial government. He commenced the practice, and, as was the custom then, visited the courts in a large district of country, travelling on horseback, and encountering many difficulties unknown to the members of the bar at the present day.
In 1806 he was elected a member of the legislature of Ohio, and during the session he took his part in the business of the day. He draughted the law which arrested the traitorous designs of Burr, and introduced an address to Mr. Jefferson, which was unanimously adopted, expressing the attachment of the people of Ohio to the constitution of the United States, and their confidence in that illustrious man. In March, 1807, he was appointed by Mr. Jefferson marshal of Ohio.
He took an active part in the war of 1812, and held the rank of colonel under General Hull. Just previous to the surrender of Detroit by General Hull, Colonels Cass and McArthur had been sent, with a small detachment, a few mile's distant, ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining provision, and before their return Detroit was surrendered without the firing of a gun. So disgraceful, as well as humiliating, did this act appear, in the mind of Colonel Cass, that, when ordered to deliver up his sword, he indignantly shivered it in pieces, and, strewing the fragments upon the ground, declared that in like manner should his body be divided and scattered before he would in any way assent to so ignoble an act.
At the battle of St. Thomas he bore a conspicuous part, and was highly complimented by General Harrison. In 1813 he was appointed by President Madison governor of Michigan, at that time one of the most important offices within the gift of the executive. As superintendent of Indian affairs, he rendered vast and important services to his country, having formed twenty-one treaties with various Indian tribes, thus extinguishing their title to nearly one million acres of land. In 1831 General Cass was called upon by President Jackson to take charge of the war department — a position for which he was eminently fitted, and the duties of which he discharged with energy and general satisfaction to the country. In 1836 he was appointed minister to France, and immediately resigned his position as secretary of war. The position which he took in 1841 in relation to the question of the famous quintuple treaty will long be held in remembrance by his countrymen. In 1848 he received the nomination of the democratic national convention for president of the United States. In 1850 he was once more elected senator of the United States for Michigan. His long and useful services in public life have rendered him world-renowned as a statesman, while his fame as a scholar is scarcely less limited. Plain and unassuming in his manners, kind and social in his intercourse with his fellow-men, he will always stand prominent in the records of history as a true patriot, an able statesman, and a worthy citizen.
SOURCE: New Hampshire As It Is, 3rd Edition, compiled by Edwin Azro Charlton, published by Tracy and Sanford, 1855, pp. 524-526.