• UNIT-Local History Component
    Title:  The Cass Expedition
    Focus:  Lewis Cass, Territorial Governor of Michigan, came to the Sault in 1820 to negotiate a treaty with the Chippewas.
    Connection: Remember when we learned how the United States gained the area known as the Northwest Terrritory.  Today we will learn how Lewis Cass came to Sault Ste. Marie to negotiate a treaty with the Chippewa.

    Teaching Point:

    Lewis Cass, Territorial Governor of Michigan, came to the Sault in 1820 to negotiate a  treaty with the Chippewas.

    a.  Americans passed a law forbidding English fur traders to trade with the Indians.

    b.  Territorial Governor Lewis Cass visited and got into an argument with the Indians  (1820).

    c.  Susan Johnston intervened with the chiefs and  kept them from killing Cass.

    d.  Because of Susan Johnston, Cass was able to make a treaty with the Chippewas.

    Resource Material for Teachers:

                A wonderful resource for the Cass Expedition is the book American Voyageur: The Journal of David Bates Douglass (ed. Sydney Jackman, John Freeman, James Carter and Donald Rickard; Northern Michigan University Press, 1969).  Captain Douglass was a member of the U.S. Army Engineer Corps, and was assigned to the mission as topographer.  He kept a detailed journal of the expedition, which also included Henry Schoolcraft as mineralogist, as well as about a dozen voyageurs, ten soldiers, ten Indians, and several other men selected by Cass for various roles.

                As a consequence of the Jay Treaty of 1794, British forces were compelled to abandon their forts at Detroit and Mackinac Island by 1796.  Also, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers (near present day Toledo, Ohio) in 1794, American forces under General “Mad Anthony” Wayne defeated an alliance of Ojibwa, Ottawa, Potawatamie and Wyandots under Chief Blue Jacket.  This ended Indian resistance to American movement into the lands north and west of the Ohio River referred to as the Northwest Territory, and set the stage for American settlers to move in.  Between 1816 and1820 a string of US Army Forts were built in an arc on the northwest frontier: Ft. Howard (Green Bay WI) 1816, Ft. Snelling (Minneapolis) 1816, Ft. Armstrong (Rock Island, IL) 1816, Ft. Atkinson (Council Bluffs, NB) 1820.  Consistent with this project, a fort at Sault Ste. Marie was planned.  In the introduction to the book mentioned above, the purposes of establishing these forts were described: “Firstly, it was to bring about the subjugation of the Indians; secondly, it was to lessen and finally end British influence over the native peoples in American territory; and thirdly it was to bring to the Indian the benefits of civilization.” 

    The dramatic confrontation between Gov. Cass and Sassaba is described in a first-hand account in Capt. Bates’s journal.  Part of his account is also quoted in City of the Rapids, pp. 57-58.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

    Active Engagement: Color Book with descriptive text found on pages 20-21student pages.

    Share:  Have students debate both the Native American position and Territorial Governor Cass"s position for wanting this land.

Last Modified on February 14, 2018