The Freep has a "This Week in Michigan History" item today about Secretary of State Lewis Cass resigning on this date in the year 1860. What, was he caught in some scandal?
No, he stepped down from his prestigious post, as the Freep recounts, "after disagreeing with President James Buchanan about Southern secession." He "felt Buchanan, a lame-duck president essentially biding his time" until Abe Lincoln got sworn in, "wasn't doing enough to prevent the South from splitting from the Union, such as reinforcing military forts in the South."
This line of thinking has not been much emphasized in the histories of the period. Cass was 78 years old then. His life dated back to the 18th century, and he came of adulthood when Thomas Jefferson was elected. Though a Democrat, he brooked no mention of splitting up the U.S. of A. He espoused popular sovereignty, and this misguided political doctrine got buried in the 1860 election, but he advocated that his party leader -- who still had nearly three months as the Chief Executive -- do something to forestall the South's taking a "mad" step in breaking up the country.
Cass was a giant in Michigan history. That he opposed the Jefferson Davis wing of his own Democratic Party ought never to be forgotten.
His resignation deserves recognition for an act of conscience and patriotism.