Lewis Cass

Lewis Cass

Born: October 9, 1782, Exeter, New Hampshire
Died: June 17, 1866
Buried: Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan

  • 1832 Cass County, Georgia, now Bartow County, was formed from a portion of lands of the Cherokee Indian Nation. Named to honor General Lewis Cass of New Hampshire.
  • 1831-1836 Served as Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson
  • 1845-1857 Served as United States Senator from Michigan

By a legislative act in 1832, Cass County, Georgia, now b, was formed from a portion of the North Georgia lands of the Cherokee Indian Nation. The name given this new county honored General Lewis Cass of New Hampshire, serving as Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Andrew Jackson between 1831 and 1836. No doubt this honor was bestowed due to his strong support and actions in the removal of the Cherokee.

Cass was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy before studying law in Marietta, Ohio, being admitted to the bar in 1802. Four years later he became a member of the Ohio legislature. During the War of 1812, he rose to the rank of major general in the Ohio Militia, followed by a commission to the rank of brigadier general in the regular U.S. Army. The year 1813 saw Cass’s appointment as territorial governor of Michigan, a post he would retain for eighteen years until his presidential appointment as Secretary of War. His next appointment would be as minister to France in 1836, followed by an unsuccessful run to be the Democratic candidate for the presidency of the United States in 1844. From 1845 to 1848 and again in 1849 to 1857, he served in the United States Senate from Michigan. He attempted another run for president in 1848, being nominated by the Democratic party. His stance on allowing the territories to decide for themselves about the slavery issue divided his party, causing his loss in the general election. Following Cass’s final senate term, President James Buchanan appointed Cass as Secretary of State in 1857. Lewis Cass resigned on December 13, 1860 in disgust, due to Buchanan’s failure to protect federal interests in the South at a time when the idea of secession was growing in popularity, thus ending his political career.

Cass’s outspoken support of the Union decreased his popularity in Cass County and its county seat of Cassville to the point that a name change for both was recommended. In the November 1861 session of the Georgia House of Representatives, a bill was introduced to change the name of the county from Cass to Bartow and amend the name of Cassville to Manassas.

“Whereas, the county of Cass… in its organization was named in memory of Lewis Cass of Michigan; and the said Lewis Cass having recently shown himself inimical to the South by voluntary donations of his private property to sustain a wicked war upon her people, and by utterance of sentiments such as the South must be subjugated, the Union must be preserved; and has thereby become unworthy of the honor conferred by the name of said county…”

The bill passed and Cass County was renamed Bartow County in honor of Francis S. Bartow. As for the town of Cassville, this bill amended the name to Manassas, however, the name never took hold since the U. S. Postal Service never recognized the new name.

Return to Bartow History >