Michigan’s Lewis Cass office building in Lansing has a new name.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week rechristened it the “Elliott-Larsen Building.”
The new name honors Republican State Rep. Melvin Larsen and Democratic State Rep. Daisy Elliott who wrote Michigan’s civil rights legislation in 1976. Whitmer also called on the legislature to expand Elliott-Larsen protections to include sexual identity. Elliott becomes the first woman of color to have her name placed on a state building.
Cass was the territorial governor of Michigan before it gained statehood. He went on to serve as Secretary of War, as a United States senator, and as Secretary of State. He was the Democratic nominee for President in 1848, but lost to Zachary Taylor.
Cass has been criticized for his pro-slavery position, for owning a slave himself, and for policies that pushed Native Americans off their traditional lands.
In Michigan, the Cass River, Cass County, Cass City and Cassopolis are named for him, along with Cass Tech High School in Detroit, and numerous streets and landmarks.