Jack Lessenberry discusses ‘Boy Governor’ on Michigan Radio

by Brianne Johnson on October 30, 2012

In an essay delivered on Friday, October 26, Michigan Radio’s Political Analyst Jack Lessenberry discussed “a politician you may never have heard of, who nevertheless may have had a bigger influence on shaping our state than anyone….His friends called him Tom. Tom Mason.” Lessenberry was referring to Stevens T. Mason, the youngest presidential appointee in American history, and the subject of a new book that was just published by the Press, The Boy Governor: Stevens T. Mason and the Birth of Michigan Politics.

In his essay, Lessenberry states, “Those of us who grew up here learned in elementary school that Mason was the state’s first governor, the youngest governor in history…and not much more….Actually, I didn’t think there was all that much more. I was wrong.”

There is much more to Mason: In 1831, he was named Secretary of the Michigan Territory at the age of 19 — two years before he could even vote. The youngest presidential appointee in American history, Mason quickly stamped his persona on Michigan life in large letters. After championing the territory’s successful push for statehood without congressional authorization, he would defend his new state’s border in open defiance of the country’s political elite and then orchestrate its expansion through the annexation of the Upper Peninsula—all before his official election as Michigan’s first governor at age 24. The Boy Governor captures Mason’s youthful idealism and visionary accomplishments, including his advocacy for a strong state university and legislating for the creation of the Soo Locks, and renders a vivid portrait of Michigan’s first governor—his conflicts, his desires, and his sense of patriotism.

To read or listen to Lessenberry’s entire essay, click here.

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