Lewis Cass

LEWIS CASS was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, on 9 October 1782; attended Exeter Academy; taught school in Wilmington, Delaware, 1799; moved to Marietta, Ohio, 1800, where he entered the practice of law in 1802; moved to Zanesville, Ohio; married Elizabeth Spencer, 1806; was elected to the Ohio legislature, 1806; served as marshal of Ohio, 1807–1812; was appointed colonel of the 3d Ohio Regiment and served with Generals Hull and Harrison in operations in the Old Northwest in the War of 1812; was commissioned a colonel and then brigadier general in the Regular Army, 1813; held joint command with Harrison of the Eighth Military District; participated in the Battle of the Thames, 1813; served as governor of Michigan Territory, 1813–1831; served concurrently as superintendent of Indian affairs of the region, negotiating treaties with several tribes; served as Secretary of War, 1 August 1831–5 October 1836; superintended the removal of Eastern Indians to trans-Mississippi lands; recommended a public armory for fabrication of cannon; recommended establishment of a regiment of dragoons; pressed for a plan for the efficient organization of the militia; was appointed minister to France, 1836; served in the U.S. Senate from Michigan, 1845–1848; was nominated for President on the Democratic ticket, 1848; again served in the U.S. Senate, 1849–1857; served as Secretary of State, 1857–1860, and resigned in protest over the government’s decision not to reinforce Fort Sumter and the Charleston defenses; returned to his home in Detroit and continued to write in retirement on Indian and Western subjects; died there on 17 June 1866.

The Artist

Daniel Huntington (1816–1906) was a student at Hamilton College in Utica, New York, while Lewis Cass was Secretary of War. He had advanced in his profession to become president of the prestigious National Academy of Design by the time Cass died in 1866 and painted the former secretary’s portrait seven years later. Huntington produced some 1,200 works during his artistic career, about 1,000 of them portraits. Fifteen of his portraits were of primary (nominated and confirmed) Secretaries of War.


Portrait, Lewis Cass

Jackson Administration
By Daniel Huntington
Oil on canvas, 29½" x 24½", 1873


page created 1 March 2001

Return to Front Matter