Lewis Cass

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Lewis Cass, PGM,
Lewis Cass, PGM (From the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library Collection)

Most Worshipful Grand Master 1826-1828

Lewis Cass was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, October 9, 1782. Lewis attended school in his native town during his early years, and in 1799 moved with his father’s family to Wilmington, Delaware, where he became a schoolteacher. In 1800 he went to Marietta, Ohio, where he studied law in the office of Gov. Meigs, and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1802, when only twenty years of age. In 1803 he began the practice of law at Zanesville. In 1806 he married Elizabeth Spencer, of Virginia. President Thomas Jefferson appointed him United States Marshal of Ohio in 1807. He served in that post until 1813. He served with distinction in the War of 1812, first as Colonel of the 3rd Ohio volunteers, and afterwards as Brigadier General. The close of that war found him in command in Michigan, with headquarters at Detroit. In 1813 he was appointed Governor of the territory of Michigan and served with distinction for sixteen years.

During this time he negotiated twenty-two distinct treaties with the Indians, securing the cession to the United States government of the immense regions of the northwest. In 1831 he was appointed Secretary of War in President Jackson’s cabinet. In 1836 he was appointed United States Minister to France. In 1842 he resigned this position and returned home. In 1845 he was elected to the United States Senate and served until 1848 when he resigned and accepted the democratic nomination for the presidency. After the election of that year, in which he was defeated, he was re-elected to the Senate for the balance of his original term. And in 1852 was again a prominent candidate for the presidency. In 1857 he was appointed Secretary of State in President Buchanan’s cabinet, but when this President refused to reinforce and reprovision Fort Sumpter he promptly resigned, thus terminating a distinguished and honorable public career of fifty-six years.

His Masonic career commences almost at the beginning of the century. He was initiated in American Union Lodge, No. 1, at Marietta, Ohio, and raised as a Master Mason on May 7, 1804. He was active in Masonry in that state, and was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons of Ohio, on January 10, 1810.

At the organization of the first Grand Lodge of Michigan, July 31, 1826, he was elected Most Worshipful Grand Master, and held this office during the existence of that body. The anti-Masonic crusade swept over the country at about that time, and he recommended that all Masonic work in Michigan be suspended. He installed Brother John Mullett as Grand Master in 1844, upon the organization of the present Grand Lodge. He retained the highest respect for Masonry during the remainder of his life.

He died at his home in Detroit on June 11, 1866, and was buried with such honors as were due to a Past Grand Master of Masons of Michigan.

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