John C. Frémont | Wikipedia audio article

John C. Frémont | Wikipedia audio article


John Charles Frémont or Fremont (January
21, 1813 – July 13, 1890) was an American explorer, politician, and soldier who, in
1856, became the first candidate of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United
States. During the 1840s, when he led five expeditions
into the American West, that era’s penny press and admiring historians accorded Frémont
the sobriquet The Pathfinder.During the Mexican–American War, Frémont, a major in the U.S. Army, took
control of California from the California Republic in 1846. Frémont was convicted in court-martial for
mutiny and insubordination over a conflict of who was the rightful military governor
of California. After his sentence was commuted and he was
reinstated by President Polk, Frémont resigned from the Army. Frémont led a private fourth expedition,
which cost ten lives, seeking a rail route over the mountains around the 38th parallel
in the winter of 1849. Afterwards, Frémont settled in California
at Monterey while buying cheap land in the Sierra foothills. When gold was found on his Mariposa ranch,
Frémont became a wealthy man during the California Gold Rush, but he was soon bogged down with
lawsuits over land claims, between the dispossession of various land owners during the Mexican–American
War and the explosion of Forty-Niners immigrating during the Rush. These cases were settled by the U.S. Supreme
Court allowing Frémont to keep his property. Frémont’s fifth and final privately funded
expedition, between 1853 and 1854, surveyed a route for a transcontinental railroad. Frémont became one of the first two U.S.
senators elected from the new state of California in 1850. Frémont was the first presidential candidate
of the new Republican Party, carrying most of the North. He lost the 1856 presidential election to
Democrat James Buchanan when Know Nothings split the vote. Democrats warned that his election would lead
to civil war.During the American Civil War, he was given command of Department of the
West by President Abraham Lincoln. Although Frémont had successes during his
brief tenure as Commander of the Western Armies, he ran his department autocratically, and
made hasty decisions without consulting Washington D.C. or President Lincoln. After Frémont’s emancipation edict that freed
slaves in his district, he was relieved of his command by President Lincoln for insubordination. In 1861, Frémont was the first commanding
Union general who recognized in Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant an “iron will” to
fight and promoted him commander at the strategic base near Cairo, Illinois. Defeating the Confederates at Springfield,
Frémont was the only Union General in the West to have a Union victory for 1861. After a brief service tenure in the Mountain
Department in 1862, Frémont resided in New York, retiring from the Army in 1864. The same year Frémont was a presidential
candidate for the Radical Democracy Party, but he resigned before the election. After the Civil War, Frémont’s wealth declined
after investing heavily and purchasing an unsuccessful Pacific Railroad in 1866, and
lost much of his wealth during the Panic of 1873. Frémont served as Governor of Arizona from
1878 to 1881 appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes. Frémont retired from politics and died destitute
in New York City in 1890. Historians portray Frémont as controversial,
impetuous, and contradictory. Some scholars regard him as a military hero
of significant accomplishment, while others view him as a failure who repeatedly defeated
his own best purposes. The keys to Frémont’s character and personality
may lie in his being born illegitimately, his ambitious drive for success, self-justification,
and passive-aggressive behavior. Frémont’s published reports and maps produced
from his explorations significantly contributed to massive American emigration overland into
the West starting in the 1840s. In June 1846, Frémont’s and his army expedition’s
return to California, spurred the formation of the California Battalion, and his military
advice led to the capture of Sonoma, and the formation of the Bear Flag Republic. Many people during his lifetime believed his
court martial by General Kearny in 1848 was unjustified. His biographer Allan Nevins in 1939 believed
that Frémont lived a dramatic lifestyle, one of remarkable successes, and one of dismal
failures.==Early life, education, and career==
John Charles Frémont was born on January 21, 1813, the son of Charles Frémon, a French-Canadian
immigrant school-teacher, and Anne Beverley Whiting, the youngest daughter of socially
prominent Virginia planter Col. Thomas Whiting. At age 17, Anne married Major John Pryor,
a wealthy Richmond resident in his early 60s. In 1810, Pryor hired Frémon to tutor his
young wife Anne. Pryor confronted Anne when he found out she
was having an affair with Frémon. Anne and Frémon fled to Williamsburg on July
10, 1811, later settling in Norfolk, Virginia, taking with them household slaves Anne had
inherited. The couple later settled in Savannah, Georgia,
where she gave birth to their son Frémont out of wedlock. Pryor published a divorce petition in the
Virginia Patriot, and charged that his wife had “for some time past indulged in criminal
intercourse”. When the Virginia House of Delegates refused
Anne’s divorce petition, it was impossible for the couple to marry. In Savannah, Anne took in boarders while Frémon
taught French and dancing. A woman enslaved in the household, Black Hannah,
helped raise young John. On December 8, 1818, Frémont’s father Frémon
died in Norfolk, Virginia, leaving Anne a widow to take care of John and several young
children alone on a limited inherited income. Anne and her family moved to Charleston, South
Carolina. Frémont, knowing his origins and coming from
relatively modest means, grew up a proud, reserved, restless loner who although self-disciplined,
was ready to prove himself and unwilling to play by the rules. The young Frémont was considered to be “precious,
handsome, and daring,” having the ability of obtaining protectors. A lawyer, John W. Mitchell, provided for Frémont’s
early education whereupon Frémont in May 1829 entered Charleston College, teaching
at intervals in the countryside, but was expelled for irregular attendance in 1831. Frémont, however, had been grounded in mathematics
and natural sciences.Frémont attracted the attention of eminent South Carolina politician
Joel R. Poinsett, an Andrew Jackson supporter, who secured Frémont an appointment as a teacher
of mathematics aboard the sloop USS Natchez, sailing the South American seas in 1833. Frémont resigned from the navy and was appointed
second lieutenant in the United States Topographical Corps, surveying a route for the Charleston,
Louisville, and Cincinnati railroad. Working in the Carolina mountains, Frémont
desired to become an explorer. Between 1837 and 1838, Frémont’s desire for
exploration increased while in Georgia on reconnaissance to prepare for the removal
of Cherokee Indians. When Poinsett became Secretary of War, he
arranged for Frémont to assist notable French explorer and scientist Joseph Nicollet in
exploring the lands between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Frémont become a first rate topographer,
trained in astronomy, and geology, describing fauna, flora, soil, and water resources. Gaining valuable western frontier experience
Frémont came in contact with notable men including Henry Sibley, Joseph Renville, J.B. Faribault, Étienne Provost, and the Sioux
nation.==Marriage and senatorial patronage==
Frémont’s exploration work with Nicollet brought him in contact with Senator Thomas
Hart Benton of Missouri, powerful chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs. Benton invited Frémont to his Washington
home where he met Benton’s 16-year-old daughter Jessie Benton. A romance blossomed between the two; however,
Benton was initially against it because Frémont was not considered upper society. In 1841, Frémont (age 28) and Jesse eloped
and were married by a Catholic priest. Initially Benton was furious at their marriage,
but in time, because he loved his daughter, he accepted their marriage and became Frémont’s
patron. Benton, Democratic Party leader for more than
30 years in the Senate, championed the expansionist movement, a political cause that became known
as Manifest Destiny. The expansionists believed that the North
American continent, from one end to the other, north and south, east and west, should belong
to the citizens of the U.S. They believed it was the nation’s destiny
to control the continent. This movement became a crusade for politicians
such as Benton and his new son-in-law. Benton pushed appropriations through Congress
for national surveys of the Oregon Trail, the Oregon Country, the Great Basin, and Sierra
Nevada Mountains to California. Through his power and influence, Senator Benton
obtained for Frémont the leadership, funding, and patronage of three expeditions.==Frémont’s explorations==The opening of the American West began in
1804, when the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Meriwether Lewis and William Clark) started
exploration of the new Louisiana Purchase territory to find a northwest passage up the
Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. President Thomas Jefferson had envisioned
a Western empire, and also sent the Pike Expedition under Zebulon Pike to explore the southwest. British and American fur trappers, including
Peter Skene Ogden and Jedediah Smith, explored much of the American West in the 1820s. Frémont, who would later be known as The
Pathfinder, carried on this tradition of Western overland exploration, building on and adding
to the work of earlier pathfinders to expand knowledge of the American West. Frémont’s talent lay in his scientific documentations,
publications, and maps made based on his expeditions, making the American West accessible for many
Americans. Beginning in 1842, Frémont led five western
expeditions, however, between the third and fourth expeditions, Frémont’s career took
a fateful turn because of the Mexican–American War. Frémont’s initial explorations, his timely
scientific reports, coauthored by his wife Jesse, and their romantic writing style, encouraged
Americans to travel West. A series of seven maps produced from his findings,
published by the Senate in 1846, served as a guide for thousands of American emigrants,
depicting the entire length of the Oregon Trail.===First expedition (1842)===When Nicollet was too ill to continue any
further explorations, Frémont was chosen to be his successor. His first important expedition was planned
by Benton, Senator Lewis Linn, and other Westerners interested in the acquiring the Oregon Territory. The scientific expedition started in the summer
of 1842 and was to explore the Wind River chain of the Rocky Mountains, examine the
Oregon Trail through the South Pass, and report on the rivers, fertility of the lands, find
optimal sites for forts, and the nature of the mountains beyond in Wyoming. By chance meeting, Frémont was able to gain
the valuable assistance of mountain man and guide Kit Carson. Frémont and his party of 25 men, including
Carson, embarked from the Kansas River on June 15, 1842, followed the Platte River to
the South Pass, and starting from Green River he explored the Wind River mountain range. Frémont climbed a 13,745 foot mountain, Frémont’s
Peak, planted an American flag, claiming the Rocky Mountains and the West for the United
States. On Frémont’s return trip he and his party
carelessly rafted the swollen Platte River losing much of his equipment. His five-month exploration, however, was a
success, returning to Washington in October. Frémont and his wife Jesse wrote a Report
of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains (1843), which was printed in newspapers across
the country; the public embraced his vision of the west not as a place of danger but wide
open and inviting lands to be settled.===Second expedition (1843–1844)===Frémont’s successful first expedition led
quickly to a second; it began in the summer of 1843. The more ambitious goal this time was to map
and describe the second half of the Oregon Trail, find an alternate route to the South
Pass, push westward toward the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River in Oregon Country. Frémont and his almost 40 well-equipped men,
left the Missouri River in May, after he controversially obtained a 12-pound howitzer cannon in St.
Louis. Frémont invited Carson on the second expedition,
due to his proven skills, and he joined Frémont’s party on the Arkansas River. Unable to find a new route through Colorado
to the South Pass, Frémont took to the regular Oregon Trail, passing the main body of the
great immigration of 1843. His party stopped to explore the northern
part of the Great Salt Lake, then traveling by way Fort Hall and Fort Boise to Marcus
Whitman’s mission, along the Snake River to the Columbia River and in to Oregon. Frémont’s endurance, energy, and resourcefulness
over the long journey were remarkable. Traveling west along the Columbia, they came
within sight of the Cascade Range peaks and mapped Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. Reaching the Dalles on November 5, Frémont
left his party and traveled to British Fort Vancouver for supplies. Rather than turning around and head back to
St. Louis, Frémont resolved to explore the Great Basin between the Rockies and the Sierras
and fulfill Benton’s dream of acquiring the West for the United States. Frémont and his party turned south along
the eastern flank of the Cascades through the Oregon territory to Pyramid Lake, that
he named. Looping back to the east to stay on the eastern
side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, they turned south again as far as present-day
Minden, Nevada, reaching the Carson River on January 18, 1844. From an area near what later became Virginia
City, Frémont daringly, possibly foolhardily, turned west into the cold and snowy Sierra
Nevada, becoming some of the first Americans to see Lake Tahoe. Carson successfully led Frémont’s party through
a new pass over the high Sierras, which Frémont named Carson Pass in his honor. Frémont and his party then descended the
American River valley to Sutter’s Fort (Spanish: Nueva Helvetia) at present-day Sacramento,
California in early March. Captain John Sutter, a German-American immigrant
and founder of the fort, received Frémont gladly and refitted his expedition party. While at Sutter’s Fort, Frémont talked to
American settlers, who were growing numerous, and found that Mexican authority over California
was very weak.Leaving Sutter’s Fort, Frémont and his men headed south following Smith’s
trail on the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley until he struck the “Spanish Trail”
between Los Angeles and Santa Fe, and headed east through Tehachapi Pass and present-day
Las Vegas before regaining Smith’s trail north through Utah and back to South Pass. Exploring the Great Basin, Frémont verified
that all the land (centered on modern-day Nevada between Reno and Salt Lake City) was
endorheic, without any outlet rivers flowing towards the sea. The finding contributed greatly to a better
understanding of North American geography, and disproved a longstanding legend of a ‘Buenaventura
River’ that flowed out the Great Basin across the Sierra Nevada. After exploring Utah Lake, Frémont traveled
by way of the Pueblo until he reached Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas River. In August 1844, Frémont and his party finally
arrived back in St. Louis, enthusiastically received by the people, ending the journey
that lasted over one year. His wife Jesse and Frémont returned to Washington,
where the two wrote a second report, scientific in detail, showing the Oregon Trail was not
difficult to travel and that the Northwest had fertile land. Senator Buchanan ordered the printing of 10,000
copies to be used by settlers and fervor the popular movement of national expansion.===Third expedition (1845)===
With the backdrop of an impending war with Mexico, after James K. Polk had been elected
president, Benton quickly organized a third expedition for Frémont. The plan for Frémont under the War Department
was to survey the central Rockies, the Great Salt Lake region, and part of the Sierra Nevada. Back in St. Louis, Frémont organized an armed
surveying expedition of 60 men, with Carson as guide, and two distinguished scouts, Joseph
Walker and Alexander Godey. Working with Benton and Secretary of Navy
George Bancroft, Frémont was secretly told that if war started with Mexico he was to
turn his scientific expedition into a military force. President Polk, who had met with Frémont
at a cabinet meeting, was set on taking California. Frémont desired to conquer California for
its beauty and wealth, and would later explain his very controversial conduct there.On June
1, 1845, Frémont and his armed expedition party left St. Louis having the immediate
goal to locate the source of the Arkansas River, on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. Frémont and his party struck west by way
of Bent’s Fort, The Great Salt Lake, and the “Hastings Cut-Off”. When Frémont reached the Ogden River, which
he renamed the Humboldt, he divided his party in two to double his geographic information. Upon reaching the Arkansas River, Frémont
suddenly made a blazing trail through Nevada straight to California, having a rendezvous
with his men from the split party at Walker Lake near Yosemite Valley.==Events in California and Oregon Country
(1845–1846)==Taking 16 men, Frémont split his party again,
arriving at Sutter’s Fort in the Sacramento Valley on December 9. Frémont promptly sought to stir up patriotic
enthusiasm among the American settlers there. He promised that if war with Mexico started,
his military force would protect the settlers. Frémont went to Monterey, California, to
talk with the American consul, Thomas O. Larkin, and Mexican commandante Jose Castro, under
the pretext of gaining fuller supplies. In February 1846, Frémont reunited with 45
men of his expedition party near San Jose Mission, giving the United States a formidable
military army in California. Castro and Mexican officials were suspicious
of Frémont and he was ordered to leave the country. Frémont and his men withdrew and camped near
the summit of what is now named Fremont Peak. Headstrong and with much audacity, Frémont
raised the United States Flag in defiance of Mexican authority. Playing for time, after a four-day standoff
and Castro having superior number of Mexican troops, Frémont and his men went north to
Oregon, conducting the Sacramento River massacre along the way. They eventually made camp at Klamath Lake. On May 8, Frémont was overtaken by Lieutenant
Archibald Gillespie from Washington, who gave him copies of dispatches he had previously
given to Larkin. Gillespie told Frémont secret instructions
from Benton and Buchanan justifying aggressive action and that a declaration of war with
Mexico was imminent. On May 9, 1846, Indians attacked his expedition
party in retaliation for numerous killings of Indians that Frémont’s men had engaged
in along the trail. Frémont retaliated by attacking a Klamath
Indian fishing village named Dokdokwas the following day in the Klamath Lake massacre,
although the people living there might not have been involved in the first action. The village was at the junction of the Williamson
River and Klamath Lake. On May 12, 1846, the Frémont group completely
destroyed it. Frémont believed that the British were responsible
for arming and encouraging the Indians to attack his American party. Afterward, Carson was nearly killed by a Klamath
warrior. As Carson’s gun misfired, the warrior drew
to shoot a poison arrow; however, Frémont, seeing that Carson was in danger, trampled
the warrior with his horse. Carson felt that he owed Frémont his life. A few weeks later, Frémont and his armed
militia returned to California.==Mexican–American War (1846–1848)==Having reentered Mexican California headed
south, Frémont and his army expedition stopped off at Peter Lassen’s Ranch on May 24, 1846. Frémont learned from Lassen that the USS
Portsmouth, commanded by John B. Montgomery, was anchored at Sausalito. Frémont sent Lt. Gillespie to Montogmery
and requested supplies including 8000 percussion caps, 300 pounds of rifle lead, one keg of
powder, and food provisions, intending to head back to St. Louis. On May 31, Frémont made his camp on the Bear
and Feather rivers 60 miles north of Sutter’s Fort, where American Californians ready for
revolt against Mexican authority joined his party. From there he made another attack on local
Indians in a rancheria (see Sutter Buttes massacre). In early June, believing war with Mexico to
be a virtual certainty, Frémont joined the Sacramento Valley insurgents in a “silent
partnership”, rather than head back to St. Louis, as originally planned. On June 10, ordered by Frémont, four men
from Frémont’s party and 10 rebel volunteers seized 170 horses intended for Castro’s Army
and returned them to Frémont’s camp. On June 14, having been advised and ordered
by Frémont, 34 armed rebels independently captured Sonoma, the largest settlement in
northern California, forced the surrender of Colonel Mariano Vallejo, taking him and
three others prisoners. The following day, rebel Californians who
called themselves Osos (Spanish for bears), amidst a brandy filled party, hoisted a roughly
sewn flag, and formed the Bear Flag Republic, electing William Ide as their leader. The four prisoners were then taken to Frémont’s
American camp 80 miles away. On June 15, the prisoners and escorts arrived
at Frémont’s new camp on the American River, but Frémont publicly denied responsibility
for the raid. The escorts then removed the prisoners south
to Sutter’s Fort and imprisoned by Sutter under Frémont’s orders. It was at this time Frémont began signing
letters as “Military Commander of U.S. Forces in California”.On June 24, Frémont and his
men rode to Sonoma arriving on June 25, upon hearing that Californio (people of Spanish
or Mexican descent) Juan N. Padilla had captured, tortured, killed, and mutilated the bodies
of two Osos, and held prisoner another Osos. On June 26, Frémont, his own men, Lieutenant
Henry Ford and a detachment of Osos, totalling 125 men, rode south to San Rafael, searching
for Captain Joaquin de la Torre and his Californios Lancers, rumored to have been ordered by Castro
to attack Sonoma, but was unable to find them. On June 28, Kit Carson and Frémont were near
the shores of San Rafael, when three unarmed Californios embarked from a row boat, including
Don José Berreyesa and the Haro twin brothers Ramon and Francisco, sons of Don Francisco
de Haro. When Carson asked Frémont what to do with
the Californios, Frémont waved his hands and replied, “I have got no room for prisoners.” Carson, who was 50 yards away, took his rifle
and shot, instantly killing Ramon. His brother Francisco fell on Ramon’s body. An order was shouted out, “Kill the other
son of a bitch !” A shot was fired instantly killing Francisco. When Berreyesa asked why the boys had been
shot, Berreyesa was shot and instantly killed. The bodies were stripped of their clothing
and left to lay on the beach. Berreyesa’s son Antonio found an American
wearing his father’s serape. He asked Frémont for the serape to be returned
but Frémont refused. Antonio was forced to pay $25 for the garment. Early on July 7, 1846, the frigate USS Savannah
and the two sloops, USS Cyane and USS Levant of the United States Navy, captured Monterey,
California, and raised the flag of the United States. Commodore John D. Sloat, commanding the U.S.
Navy’s Pacific Squadron had his proclamation read in and posted in English and Spanish:
“… henceforth California would be a portion of the United States.” On July 10, Frémont learned that the United
States was at war with Mexico and he fully cooperated with Commodore Sloat and his senior
officer Robert F. Stockton. Promoted to Commodore and replacing an ailing
Sloat, Stockton was put in charge of land operations on July 23, 1846. Frémont was appointed major in command of
the California Battalion, also called U.S. Mounted Rifles, which he had helped form with
his survey crew and volunteers from the Bear Flag Republic, now totaling 428 men. Stockton incorporated the California Battalion
into the U.S. military giving them soldiers pay. Frémont and about 160 of his troops went
by ship to San Diego, and with Stockton’s marines took Los Angeles on August 13. Frémont afterwards went north to recruit
more Californians into his battalion. In late 1846, under orders from Stockton,
Frémont led a military expedition of 300 men to capture Santa Barbara, California. In September, Mexican Californians unwilling
to be ruled by the United States, under José María Flores, fought back and retook Los
Angeles, driving out Americans. In December 1846, U.S. Brigadier General Stephen
W. Kearny arrived in California having instructions to establish a military control. Kearny, who was undermanned, mistakenly believing
war in California had ended, was attacked at the Battle of San Pasqual, but was reinforced
when Stockton sent troops to drive off Pio Pico and the California Lancers. It was at this time a dispute began between
Stockton and Kearny who had control over the military, but the two managed to work together
to stop the Los Angeles uprising. Frémont led his unit over the Santa Ynez
Mountains at San Marcos Pass in a rainstorm on the night of December 24, 1846. Despite losing many of his horses, mules and
cannons, which slid down the muddy slopes during the rainy night, his men regrouped
in the foothills (behind what is today Rancho Del Ciervo) the next morning, and captured
the Presidio of Santa Barbara and the town without bloodshed. A few days later, Frémont led his men southeast
toward Los Angeles, reinforcing Stockton and Kearny at the Battle of La Mesa, and accepted
Pico’s surrender upon signing the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847, which terminated
the war in upper California. It was at this time Kearny ordered Frémont
to join his military dragoons, but Frémont refused, believing he was under authority
of Stockton.===Courtmartial and resignation===On January 16, 1847, Commodore Stockton appointed
Frémont military governor of California following the Treaty of Cahuenga, and then left Los
Angeles. Frémont functioned for a few weeks without
controversy, but he had little money to administer his duties as governor. Previously, unknown to Stockton and Frémont,
the Navy Department had sent orders for Sloat and his successors to establish military rule
over California. These orders, however, postdated Kearny’s
orders to establish military control over California. Kearny did not have the troop strength to
enforce those orders, and was forced to rely on Stockton’s Marines and Frémont’s California
Battalion until army reinforcements arrived. On February 13, specific orders were sent
from Washington through Commanding General Winfield Scott giving Kearny the authority
to be military governor of California. Kearny, however, did not directly inform Frémont
of these orders from Scott. Kearny ordered that Frémont’s California
Battalion be enlisted into the U.S. Army and Frémont bring his battalion archives to Kearny’s
headquarters in Monterey.Frémont delayed obeying these orders, hoping Washington would
send instructions for Frémont to be military governor. Also, the California Battalion refused to
join the U.S. Army. Frémont gave orders for the California Battalion
not to surrender arms, and rode to Monterey to talk to Kearny, and told Kearny he would
obey orders. Kearny sent Col. Richard B. Mason to Los Angeles,
who was to succeed Kearny as military governor of California, to inspect troops and give
Frémont further orders. Frémont and Mason however were at odds with
each other and Frémont challenged Mason to a duel. After an arrangement to postpone the duel,
Kearny rode to Los Angeles and refused Frémont’s request to join troops in Mexico. Ordered to march with Kearny’s army back east,
Frémont was arrested on August 22, 1847 when they arrived at Fort Leavenworth. He was charged with mutiny, disobedience of
orders, assumption of powers, and several other military offenses. Ordered by Kearny to report to the adjutant
general in Washington to stand for court-martial, Frémont was found innocent of mutiny, but
was convicted on January 31, 1848 of disobedience toward a superior officer and military misconduct.While
approving the court’s decision, President James K. Polk quickly commuted Frémont’s
sentence of dishonorable discharge and reinstated him into the Army, due to his war services. Polk felt that Frémont was guilty of disobeying
orders and misconduct, but he did not believe Frémont was guilty of mutiny. Additionally, Polk wished to placate Thomas
Hart Benton, a powerful Senator and Frémont’s father in law who felt that Frémont was innocent. Frémont, only gaining a partial pardon from
Polk, resigned his commission in protest and settled in California. Despite the court-martial, Frémont remained
popular among the American public. Historians are divided in their opinions on
this period of Frémont’s career. Mary Lee Spence and Donald Jackson, editors
of a large collection of letters by Fremont and others dating from this period, concluded
that “…in the California episode, Frémont was as often right as wrong. And even a cursory investigation of the court-martial
record produces one undeniable conclusion: neither side in the controversy acquitted
itself with distinction.” Allan Nevins states that Kearny: was a stern-tempered soldier who made few
friends and many enemies – who has been justly characterized by the most careful historian
of the period, Justin H. Smith, as “grasping, jealous, domineering, and harsh.” Possessing these traits, feeling his pride
stung by his defeat at San Pasqual, and anxious to assert his authority, he was no sooner
in Los Angeles than he quarreled bitterly with Stockton; and Frémont was not only at
once involved in this quarrel, but inherited the whole burden of it as soon as Stockton
left the country.Theodore Grivas wrote that “It does not seem quite clear how Frémont,
an army officer, could have imagined that a naval officer [Stockton] could have protected
him from a charge of insubordination toward his superior officer [Kearny]”. Grivas goes on to say, however, that “This
conflict between Kearny, Stockton and Frémont perhaps could have been averted had methods
of communication been what they are today.”==Fourth expedition (1848–1849)==
Intent on restoring his honor and explorer reputation after his court martial, in 1848,
Frémont and his father-in-law Sen. Benton developed a plan to advance their vision of
Manifest Destiny. With a keen interest in the potential of railroads,
Sen. Benton had sought support from the Senate for a railroad connecting St. Louis to San
Francisco along the 38th parallel, the latitude which both cities approximately share. After Benton failed to secure federal funding,
Frémont secured private funding. In October 1848 he embarked with 35 men up
the Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas rivers to explore the terrain. The artists and brothers Edward Kern and Richard
Kern, and their brother Benjamin Kern, were part of the expedition, however, Frémont
was unable obtain the valued service of Kit Carson as guide as in his previous expeditions.On
his party’s reaching Bent’s Fort, he was strongly advised by most of the trappers against continuing
the journey. Already a foot of snow was on the ground at
Bent’s Fort, and the winter in the mountains promised to be especially snowy. Part of Frémont’s purpose was to demonstrate
that a 38th parallel railroad would be practical year-round. At Bent’s Fort, he engaged “Uncle Dick” Wootton
as guide, and at what is now Pueblo, Colorado, he hired the eccentric Old Bill Williams and
moved on. Had Frémont continued up the Arkansas, he
might have succeeded. On November 25 at what is now Florence, Colorado,
he turned sharply south. By the time his party crossed the Sangre de
Cristo Range via Mosca Pass, they had already experienced days of bitter cold, blinding
snow and difficult travel. Some of the party, including the guide Wootton,
had already turned back, concluding that further travel would be impossible. Benjamin Kern and “Old Bill” Williams were
killed while retracing the expedition trail to look for gear and survivors. Although the passes through the Sangre de
Cristo had proven too steep for a railroad, Frémont pressed on. From this point the party might still have
succeeded had they gone up the Rio Grande to its source, or gone by a more northerly
route, but the route they took brought them to the very top of Mesa Mountain. By December 12, on Boot Mountain, it took
ninety minutes to progress three hundred yards. Mules began dying and by December 20, only
59 animals remained alive. It was not until December 22 that Frémont
acknowledged that the party needed to regroup and be resupplied. They began to make their way to Taos in the
New Mexico Territory. By the time the last surviving member of the
expedition made it to Taos on February 12, 1849, 10 of the party had died. Except for the efforts of member Alexis Godey,
another 15 would have been lost. After recuperating in Taos, Frémont and only
a few of the men left for California via an established southern trade route. Edward and Richard Kern joined J.H. Simpson’s military reconnaissance expedition
to the Navajos in 1849, and gave the American public some of its earliest authentic graphic
images of the people and landscape of Arizona, New Mexico, and southern Colorado; with views
of Canyon de Chelly, Chaco Canyon, and El Morro (Inscription Rock).In 1850, Frémont
was awarded the Founders Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for his various exploratory
efforts.==Rancho Las Mariposas==On February 10, 1847, Frémont purchased seventy
square miles of land in the Sierra foothills, called Las Mariposas, through land speculator
Thomas Larkin, for $3,000. Las Mariposas had previously been owned by
Juan Bautista Alvarado, former California governor, and his wife Martina Caston de Alvarado. Frémont had hoped Las Mariposas was near
San Francisco or Monterey, but was disappointed when he found out it was farther inland by
Yosemite, on the Miwok Indian’s hunting and gathering grounds. After his court martial in 1848, Frémont
moved to Las Mariposas and became a rancher, borrowing money from his father-in-law Benton
and Senator John Dix to construct a house, corral, and barn. Frémont ordered a sawmill and had it shipped
by the Aspinwall steamer Fredonia to Las Mariposas. Frémont was informed by Sonora Mexicans that
gold had been discovered on his property. Frémont was instantly a wealthy man, a five-mile
quartz vein produced hundreds of pounds of placer gold each month. In 1851 Hiland Hall, a former Governor of
Vermont, was appointed chairman of the federal commission created to settle Mexican land
titles in California; he traveled to San Francisco to begin his work, and his son-in-law Trenor
W. Park traveled with him. Frémont hired Park as a managing partner
to oversee the day-to-day activities of the estate, and Mexican laborers to wash out the
gold on his property in exchange for a percentage of the profits. Frémont acquired large landholdings in San
Francisco, and while developing his Las Mariposas gold ranch, he lived a wealthy lifestyle in
Monterey.Legal issues, however, soon mounted over property and mineral rights. Disputes erupted as squatters moved on Frémont’s
Las Mariposas land mining for gold. There was question whether the three mining
districts on the land were public domain, while the Merced Mining Company was actively
mining on Frémont’s property. Since Alvarado had purchased Las Mariposas
on a “floating grant”, the property borders were not precisely defined by the Mexican
government. Alvarado’s ownership of the land was legally
contested since Alvarado never actually settled on the property as required by Mexican law. All of these matters lingered and were argued
in court for many years until the Supreme Court finally ruled in Frémont’s favor in
1856. Although Frémont’s legal victory allowed
him to keep his wealth, it created lingering animosity among his neighbors.==U.S. Senator from California (1850–1851)
==On November 13, 1849 General Bennet C. Riley,
without Washington approval, called for a state election to ratify the new California
State constitution. On December 20, the California legislature
voted to seat two Senators to represent the state in the Senate. The front-runner was Frémont, a Free Soil
Democrat, known for being a western hero, and regarded by many as an innocent victim
of an unjustified court-martial. The other candidates were T. Butler King,
a Whig, and William Gwin, a Democrat. Frémont won the first Senate seat, easily
having 29 out of 41 votes and Gwin, having Southern backing, was elected to the second
Senate seat, having won 24 out of 41 votes. By random draw of straws, Gwin won the longer
Senate term while Frémont won the shorter Senate term. In Washington, Frémont, whose California
ranch had been purchased from a Mexican land grantee, supported an unsuccessful law that
would have rubber-stamped Mexican land grants, and another law that prevented foreign workers
from owning gold claims (Fremont’s ranch was in gold country), derisively called “Frémont’s
Gold Bill”. Frémont voted against harsh penalties for
those who assisted runaway slaves and he was in favor of abolishing the slave trade in
the District of Columbia.Democratic pro-slavery opponents of Frémont, called the Chivs, strongly
opposed Frémont’s re-election, and endorsed Solomon Heydenfeldt. Rushing back to California hoping to thwart
the Chivs, Frémont started his own election newspaper, the San Jose Daily Argus, however,
to no avail, he was unable to get enough votes for re-election to the Senate. Neither Heydenfeldt, nor Frémont’s other
second-time competitor King, were able to obtain a majority of votes, allowing Gwin
to be California’s lone senator. Frémont’s term lasted 175 days from September
10, 1850, to March 3, 1851, and he only served 21 working days in Washington in the Senate. Pro-slavery John B. Weller, supported by the
Chivs, was elected one year later to the empty Senate seat previously held by Frémont.==Fifth expedition (1853–1854)==
In the fall of 1853, Frémont embarked on another expedition to identify a viable route
for a transcontinental railroad along the 38th parallel. The party journeyed between Missouri and San
Francisco, California, over a combination of known trails and unexplored terrain. A primary objective was to pass through the
Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada Mountains during winter to document the amount of snow
and the feasibility of winter rail passage along the route. His photographer (daguerreotypist) was Solomon
Nunes Carvalho. Frémont followed the Santa Fe Trail, passing
Bent’s Fort before heading west and entering the San Luis Valley of Colorado in December. The party then followed the North Branch of
the Old Spanish Trail, crossing the Continental Divide at Cochetopa Pass and continuing west
into central Utah. But following the trail was made difficult
by snow cover. On occasion, they were able to detect evidence
of Captain John Gunnison’s expedition, which had followed the North Branch just months
before. Weeks of snow and bitter cold took its toll
and slowed progress. Nonessential equipment was abandoned and one
man died before the struggling party reached the Mormon settlement of Parowan in southwestern
Utah on February 8, 1854. After spending two weeks in Parowan to regain
strength, the party continued across the Great Basin and entered the Owens Valley near present-day
Big Pine, California. Frémont then journeyed south and crossed
the Sierra Nevada Mountains and entered the Kern River drainage, which was followed west
to the San Joaquin Valley. Frémont arrived in San Francisco on April
16, 1854. Having completed a winter passage across the
mountainous west, Frémont was optimistic that a railroad along the 38th Parallel was
viable and that winter travel along the line would be possible through the Rocky Mountains.==Presidential candidate Republican Party
(1856)==In 1856, Frémont (age 43) was the first presidential
candidate of the new Republican Party. The Republicans, whose party had formed in
1854, were united in their opposition to the Pierce Administration and the spread of slavery
into the West. Initially, Frémont was asked to be the Democratic
candidate by former Virginia Governor John B. Floyd and the powerful Preston family. Frémont announced that he was for Free Soil
Kansas and was against the enforcement of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. Republican leaders Nathaniel P. Banks, Henry
Wilson, and John Bigelow were able to get Frémont to join their political party. Seeking a united front and a fresh face for
the party, the Republicans nominated Frémont for President over other candidates, and conservative
William L. Dayton of New Jersey, for Vice President, at their June 1856 convention held
in Philadelphia. The Republican campaign used the slogan “Free
Soil, Free Men, and Frémont” to crusade for free farms (homesteads) and against the Slave
Power. Frémont, popularly known as The Pathfinder,
however, had voter appeal and remained the symbol of the Republican Party. The Democratic Party nominated James Buchanan. Frémont’s wife Jessie, Bigelow, and Issac
Sherman ran Frémont’s campaign. As the daughter of a Senator, Jessie had been
raised in Washington, and she understood politics more than Frémont. Many treated Jessie as an equal political
professional, while Frémont was treated as an amateur. She received popular attention much more than
potential First Ladies, and Republicans celebrated her participation in the campaign calling
her Our Jessie. Jessie and the Republican propaganda machine
ran a strong campaign, but she was unable to get her powerful father, Senator Benton,
to support Frémont. While praising Frémont, Benton announced
his support for Buchanan. Frémont, along with the other presidential
candidates, did not actively participate in the campaign, and he mostly stayed home at
56 West Street, in New York City. This practice was typical in presidential
campaigns of the 19th century. To win the Presidency, the Republicans concentrated
on four swing states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, and Illinois. Republican luminaries were sent out decrying
the Democratic Party’s attachment to slavery and its support of the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise. The experienced Democrats, knowing the Republican
strategy, also targeted these states, running a rough media campaign, while illegally naturalizing
thousands of alien immigrants in Pennsylvania. The campaign was particularly abusive, as
the Democrats attacked Frémont’s illegitimate birth and alleged Frémont was Catholic. In a counter-crusade against the Republicans,
the Democrats criticized Frémont’s military record and warned that a victory by Frémont
would bring civil war.Frémont’s campaign was headquartered near his home (St. George)
next to the Clifton ferry landing. Many campaign rallies were held on the lawn,
now the corner of Greenfield and Bay Street. Frémont was defeated, having placed second
to James Buchanan in a three-way election; he did not carry the state of California. Frémont received 114 electoral votes to 174
votes received by Buchanan. Millard Fillmore ran as a third party candidate
representing the American Party. The popular vote went to Buchanan who received
1,836,072 votes to 1,342,345 votes received by Frémont in November 4, 1856. Fremont carried 11 states, and Buchanan carried
19. The Democrats were better organized while
the Republicans had to operate on limited funding. After the campaign, Frémont returned to California
and devoted himself to his mining business on the Mariposa gold estate, estimated by
some to be valued ten million dollars. Frémont’s title to Mariposa land had been
confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1856.==American Civil War==At the start of the Civil War, Frémont was
touring Europe in an attempt to find financial backers in his California Las Mariposas estate
ranch. President Abraham Lincoln wanted to appoint
Frémont as the American minister to France, thereby taking advantage of his French ancestry
and the popularity in Europe of his anti-slavery positions. However Secretary of State William Henry Seward
objected to Frémont’s radicalism, and the appointment was not made. Instead, Lincoln appointed Frémont Union
Army Major General on May 15, 1861. He arrived in Boston from England on June
27, 1861, and Lincoln promoted him Commander of the Department of the West on July 1, 1861. The Western department included the area west
of the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. After Frémont arrived in Washington D.C,
he conferenced with Lincoln and Commanding General Winfield Scott, himself making a plan
to clear all Confederates out of Missouri and to make a general campaign down the Mississippi
and advance on Memphis. According to Frémont, Lincoln had given him
carte blanche authority on how to conduct his campaign and to use his own judgement,
while talking on the steps of the White House portico. Frémont’s main goal as Commander of the Western
Armies was to protect Cairo, Illinois at all costs in order for the Union Army to move
southward on the Mississippi River. Both Frémont and his subordinate, General
John Pope, believed that Ulysses S. Grant was the fighting general needed to secure
Missouri from the Confederates. Frémont had to contend with a hard-driving
Union General Nathaniel Lyon, whose irregular war policy disturbed the complex loyalties
of Missouri.===Department of the West (1861)=======Command and duties====
On July 25, 1861, Frémont arrived in St. Louis and formally took command of a Department
of the West that was in crisis. Frémont was forty-eight years old, considered
grey haired and handsome.He brought with him the great reputation as “the Pathfinder of
the West”, for his eleven years of topographical service, and he was focused on driving the
Confederate forces from Missouri. Frémont had to organize an army in a slave
state that was largely disloyal, having a limited number of Union soldiers, supplies,
and arms. Guerilla warfare was breaking out and two
Confederate armies were planning on capturing Springfield and invading Illinois to capture
Cairo. Frémont’s duties upon taking command of the
Western Department were broad, his resources were limited, and the secession crisis in
Missouri appeared to be uncontrollable. Frémont was responsible for safeguarding
Missouri and all of the Northwest. Frémont’s mission was to organize, equip,
and lead the Union Army down the Mississippi River, reopen commerce, and break off the
Western part of the Confederacy. Frémont was given only 23,000 men, whose
volunteer 3-month enlistments were about to expire. Western Governors sent more troops to Frémont,
but he did not have any weapons with which to arm them. There were no uniforms or military equipment
either, and the soldiers were subject to food rationing, poor transportation, and lack of
pay. Fremont’s intelligence was also faulty, leading
him to believe the Missouri state militia and the Confederate forces were twice as numerous
as they actually were.====Blair feud and corruption charges====Frémont’s arrival brought an aristocratic
air that raised eyebrows and general disapproval of the people of St. Louis. Soon after Frémont came into command, he
became involved in a political feud with Frank Blair, a member of the powerful Blair family,
and brother of Lincoln’s cabinet member. To gain control of Missouri politics, Blair
complained to Washington that Frémont was “extravagant” and that his command was brimming
with a “horde of pirates” who were defrauding the army. This caused Lincoln to send Adjutant General
Lorenzo Thomas to check in on Frémont, who reported back that Frémont was incompetent
and had made questionable army purchases. The imbroglio became a national scandal, and
Frémont was unable to keep a handle on supply affairs. A Congressional subcommittee investigation
headed by Elihu B. Washburne and a later Commission on War Claims investigation into the entire
Western Department, confirmed that much of Blair’s charges were true.Frémont ran his
headquarters in St. Louis in a manner which has been described as “like a European autocrat”. Perhaps this was due to a sojourn through
France prior to his appointment by President Lincoln. Frémont had rented a lavish mansion for $6,000
a year, paid for by the government, and surrounded himself with Hungarian and Italian guards
in brassy uniforms. Frémont additionally set up a headquarters
bodyguard of 300 Kentucky men, chosen for their uniform physical attributes. Frémont had surrounded himself with California
associates who made huge profits by securing army contracts without competitive bidding,
as required by federal law. One Californian contracted for the construction
of 38 mortar boats for $8,250 apiece, almost double as much as they were worth. Another Californian, who was a personal friend
of Frémont, but had no construction experience, received a contract worth $191,000 to build
a series of forts, a price that should have cost one-third less. Frémont’s favorite sellers received “the
most stupendous contracts” for railroad cars, horses, Army mules, tents, and other equipment,
most of shoddy quality. A rumor spread in Washington that Frémont
was planning to start his own republic or empire in the West. Frémont’s supply line, headed by Major Justus
McKinstry, also came under scrutiny for graft and profiteering. Frémont’s biographer Nevins stresses that
much of Frémont’s troubles stemmed from the fact that the newly created Western Department
was without organization, war materials, and trained recruits, while waste and corruption
were endemic of Lincoln’s appointed Secretary Cameron’s War Department.====Confederate capture of Springfield====Earlier in May, a tough, impetuous Regular
Army captain, Nathaniel Lyon, exercising irregular authority, led troops who captured a legal
contingent of Missouri state militia camped in a Saint Louis suburb; during the capture,
civilians were killed. Missouri had not officially seceded from the
Union when Lyon was promoted brigadier general by President Abraham Lincoln and appointed
temporary commander of the Department of the West. Lyon, who believed a show of force would keep
Missouri in the Union, effectively declared war on the secession-minded Missouri governor
Claiborne Jackson, who was driven by Lyon to the Ozarks. Lyon occupied Jefferson City, the state capital,
and installed a pro-Union state government. However, Lyon became trapped at Springfield
with only 6,000 men (including Union Colonel Franz Sigel and his German corps). A primary concern for Frémont, after he assumed
command, was the protection of Cairo, a Union-occupied city on the Mississippi River, vital to the
security of the Union Army’s western war effort. It contained too few troops to defend against
a Confederate attack. Compared to the Confederates, Frémont’s forces
were dispersed and disorganized. Frémont ordered Lyon retreat from Springfield
and fall back to Rolla, while Frémont personally sent reinforcement troops to Cairo rather
than to Lyon, who had requested more troops. Frémont believed with some accuracy that
the Confederates were planning to attack Cairo. Lyon, however, hastily chose to attack Confederate
General Sterling Price at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, rather than retreat. During the battle Lyon was shot through the
heart and died instantly. As the Union line broke, similar to the first
Battle of Bull Run in the east, the Confederates won the battle and captured Springfield opening
Western Missouri for Confederate advancement. Frémont was severely criticized for the defeat
and for Lyon’s death, having sent troops to reinforce Cairo, rather than to help Lyon’s
depleted forces 10 miles south of Springfield.====Response to Confederate threat====Responding the best he could to the Confederate
and state militia threat, Frémont raised volunteer troops, purchased open market weapons
and equipment, and sent his wife Jessie to Washington D.C., where she lobbied President
Lincoln for more reinforcements. While commanding the Department of the West,
Frémont was looking for a brigadier general to command a post at Cairo. At first Frémont was going to appoint John
Pope, but upon the recommendation of Major McKinstry, he interviewed unobtrusive Brigadier
General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant had a reputation for being a “drifter
and a drunkard” in the Old Army, but Frémont viewed Grant independently using his own judgement. Frémont concluded that Grant was an “unassuming
character not given to self elation, of dogged persistence, of iron will”. Frémont chose Grant and appointed him commander
of the Cairo post in October 1861. Grant was sent to Ironton, with 3,000 untrained
troops, to stop a potential Confederate attack led by Confederate General William J. Hardee. Immediately thereafter, Frémont sent Grant
to Jefferson City, to keep it safe from a potential attack by Confederate General Price
a week after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Grant got the situation in control at Jefferson
City, drilling and disciplining troops, increased supply lines, and deploying troops on the
outskirts of the city. The city was kept safe as Price and his troops,
badly battered from the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, retreated.With Price retreating, Frémont
become more aggressive and went on the offensive. Frémont knew the key to victory in the West
was capturing control of the Mississippi River for the Union forces. Frémont decided to meet Confederate General
Leonidas Polk head-on to control the trunk of the Mississippi. In a turning point of the Civil War, on August
27, 1861 Frémont gave Ulysses S. Grant field command in charge of a combined Union offensive
whose goal was to capture Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans, to keep Missouri and Illinois
safe from Confederate attack. On August 30, Grant assumed charge of the
Union Army on the Mississippi. With Frémont’s approval, Grant proceeded
to capture Paducah, Kentucky, without firing a shot, after Polk had violated Kentucky neutrality
and had captured Columbus. The result was that the Kentucky legislature
voted to remain in the Union.====Recaptured Springfield====Desiring to regain the upper hand and make
up for Union losses at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and the occupation of Lexington, Frémont
and about 40,000 troops set out to regain Springfield. On October 25, 1861, Frémont’s forces, led
by Major Charles Zagonyi, won the First Battle of Springfield. This was the first and only Union victory
in the West for the year 1861. On November 1, Frémont ordered Grant to make
a demonstration against Belmont, a steamboat landing across the river from Columbus, in
an effort to drive Confederate General Price from Missouri. Grant had early requested to attack Columbus,
but Frémont had overruled Grant’s initiative.====Emancipation edict controversy====Frémont came under increasing pressure for
decisive action, as Confederates controlled half of Missouri, Confederate troops under
Price and McCulloch remained ready to strike, and rebel guerillas were wreaking havoc, cutting
railroad cars, telegraph lines, burning bridges, raiding farms, and attacking Union posts. Confederate sympathies in stronger slave-holding
counties needed to be reduced or broken up. Confederate warfare was causing thousands
of Union loyalists to take refuge, penniless, in Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas. Radicals in his camp and his wife Jessie urged
Frémont to free the slaves of known Confederate supporters. They argued that these men were in rebellion
and no longer protected by the Constitution, and it was legal to confiscate rebel property,
including their slaves.So, on the morning of August 30, 1861, at dawn, Frémont, without
notifying President Lincoln, issued a proclamation putting Missouri under martial law. The edict declared that civilians taken in
arms against would be subject to court martial and execution, that the property of those
who aided secessionists would be confiscated, and that the slaves of all rebels were immediately
emancipated. This last clause caused much concern. Kentucky was still “neutral”, and Unionists
there feared Frémont’s action would sway opinion there toward secession. One group in Louisville telegraphed President
Abraham Lincoln: “There is not a day to lose in disavowing
emancipation or Kentucky is gone over the mill dam.”Lincoln, fearing that Frémont’s
emancipation order would tip Missouri (and other Border States) to secession, asked Frémont
to revise the order. Frémont refused to do so, and sent his wife
to plead his case. President Lincoln told Jessie that Frémont
“should never have dragged the Negro into the war”. When Frémont remained obdurate, Lincoln publicly
revoked the emancipation clause of the proclamation on 11 September. Frémont’s abolitionist allies attacked Lincoln
for this, creating more bad feeling. Meanwhile, the War Department compiled a report
on Frémont’s misconduct as commander in Missouri. This included the arrest of Frank Blair, which
ended Frémont’s alliance with the Blair family, who had backed him for the presidential nomination
in 1856. Finally Lincoln decided Frémont had to go. He issued an order removing Frémont from
command of the Western Department, which was hand-delivered to him by Lincoln’s friend
Leonard Swett on 2 November. Lincoln’s actions prompted much hostility
among Radical Republicans throughout the North, even from old friends like Senator Orville
Browning. Lincoln himself later privately stated his
sympathy for Frémont, noting that the first reformer in some area often overreaches and
fails, but he continued to insist that Frémont had exceeded his authority and endangered
the Union cause.===Mountain departments (1862)===
After being dismissed by Lincoln, Frémont left Springfield and returned to St. Louis. On the outside Frémont expressed joy being
free from the cares of duty, but on the inside Frémont was smolderingly angry believing
the Republicans ran an incompetent war and that the Blairs, acting under malicious motives,
were responsible for what he believed to be his unjustified firing by Lincoln. More humiliations followed, Frémont’s Zagonyi
Guard was mustered out of the Army without pay, and all the contracts he made were suspended
upon approval from Washington. Pressure soon mounted among Radicals and Frémont
supporters for his reinstatement of command in the Army. In March 1862, Lincoln placed Frémont in
command of the Mountain Department, which was responsible for parts of western Virginia,
eastern Tennessee and eastern Kentucky, although he had clearly lost trust in the Pathfinder.====Battles of Cross Keys and Port Republic
====Frémont and his army and two other generals,
Nathaniel P. Banks and Irvin McDowell, and their respective armies, were in charge of
protecting the Shenandoah Valley and Washington D.C. Rather than having these armies under one
command, Lincoln and Stanton micromanaged their movements. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson took
advantage of this divided command and systematically attacked each Union Army, putting fear in
Washington D.C., taking spoils and thousands of prisoners. Early in June 1862 Frémont pursued the Confederate
General Stonewall Jackson for eight days, finally engaging part of Jackson’s force,
led by Richard S. Ewell, at Battle of Cross Keys. Frémont commanded 10,500 Union troops while
Ewell commanded about 5,000 Confederate troops. Frémont had moved down the Valley Pike from
the northwest through Harrisonburg to Cross Keys, while Union Brigadier General James
Shields closed in from the northeast, hoping to entrap Jackson’s forces. Ewell who was in charge of defending Jackson’s
western flank established strong defensive positions.On June 8, 1862 at 10:00 a.m. Frémont’s
infantry, composed of German immigrants, advanced on the Confederate line opening the Battle
of Cross Keys and slowly pushed back the Confederate advance. The 15th Alabama Infantry held off Frémont’s
attack for a half hour, followed by a long range artillery duel. Reinforced by the 44th Virginia regiment,
several Union assaults were beaten back by the Confederates. Frémont launched a major attack, but the
Confederates held their fire until the German Union soldiers were up close, releasing a
devastating volley that repelled the Union assault. Frémont withdrew, declining to launch a second
assault, and the Confederates gained the territory previously occupied by the Union Army. Fronting Frémont’s Army by a holding brigade,
Ewell’s men, on order’s from Jackson, retreated to Port Republic. At the Battle of Port Republic the following
day, Frémont attacked Jackson’s rear flank using artillery, but did not launch a major
assault. By that afternoon Jackson put his army in
motion to Brown’s Gap beyond the reach of Frémont’s artillery. Jackson and his army managed to slip out of
the Shenandoah Valley and rejoin Robert E. Lee in Richmond. Lincoln ordered Shields and Frémont to withdraw
from the Shenandoah Valley. Frémont was criticized for being late in
linking up with McDowell at Strasburg and allowing Jackson’s army to escape.===Army of Virginia, New York, and resignation
(1862–1864)===When the Army of Virginia was created on June
26, to include General Frémont’s corps with John Pope in command, Frémont declined to
serve on the grounds that he was senior to Pope, and for personal reasons. He went to New York City, where he remained
throughout the war, expecting to receive another command, but none was forthcoming. Recognizing that he would not be able to contribute
further to the Union Army’s efforts, he resigned his commission in June 1864.===Presidential candidate Radical Democracy
Party (1864)===In 1860 the Republicans nominated Abraham
Lincoln for president, who won the presidency and then ran for re-election in 1864. The Radical Republicans, a group of hard-line
abolitionists, were upset with Lincoln’s positions on the issues of slavery and post-war reconciliation
with the southern states. These radicals had bitterly resented Lincoln’s
dismissal of Frémont in 1861 over his emancipation edict in St. Louis. On May 31, 1864, the short-lived Radical Democracy
Party nominated Frémont (age 51) for president in Cleveland. Frémont was supported by Radical Republicans,
West German immigrants, and War Democrats. This fissure in the Republican Party divided
the party into two factions: the anti-Lincoln Radical Republicans, who nominated Frémont,
and the pro-Lincoln Republicans. On September 22, 1862, Lincoln had issued
his own Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, that “forever” freed slaves
in Southern states fighting under the Confederacy. Frémont reluctantly withdrew from the election
on September 22, 1864. The following day, in a prearranged compromise,
Lincoln removed ultra-conservative Montgomery Blair from his cabinet.===Rancho Pocaho===
In 1864, the Frémonts purchased an estate ranch in present-day Sleepy Hollow, New York
from the newspaper publisher James Watson Webb. They named it Pocaho, an Indian name. For Jessie it was a chance to recapture some
of the charm and isolation of living in the countryside, now that John had retired from
politics. The house, now at 7 Pokahoe Drive in Sleepy
Hollow, is currently a private residence.==Later life, Arizona territorial governor,
and death==The state of Missouri took possession of the
Pacific Railroad in February 1866, when the company defaulted in its interest payment. In June 1866 the state conveyed the company
to Frémont in a private sale. He reorganized its assets as the Southwest
Pacific Railroad in August, but less than a year later (June 1867), the railroad was
repossessed by the state after Frémont was unable to pay the second installment of the
purchase price. The Panic of 1873, caused by over speculation
in the railroad industry, and the depression that followed, wiped out much of Frémont’s
remaining wealth. Their financial straits required the Frémonts
to sell Pocaho in 1875, and to move back to New York City.Frémont was appointed Governor
of the Arizona Territory by President Rutherford B. Hayes and served from 1878 to 1881. He spent little time in Arizona, and was asked
to resume his duties in person or resign; Frémont chose resignation. Destitute, the family depended on the publication
earnings of his wife Jessie. Frémont lived on Staten Island in retirement. In April 1890, he was reappointed as a major
general and then added to the Army’s retired list, an action taken to ease his financial
condition by enabling him to qualify for a pension.On Sunday, July 13, 1890, Frémont
(age 77) died of peritonitis at his residence at 49 West Twenty-fifth Street in New York. His death was unexpected and his brief illness
was not generally known. On Tuesday, July 8, Frémont had been affected
by the heat of a particularly hot summer day. On Wednesday he came down with a chill and
was confined to his bedroom. His symptoms progressed to peritonitis (an
abdominal infection) which caused his death. At the time he died, Frémont was popularly
known as the “Pathfinder of the Rocky Mountains”. Initially interred at Trinity Church Cemetery,
he was reinterred in Rockland Cemetery in Sparkill, New York on March 17, 1891.==Historical reputation==Although Frémont was often caught up in controversy,
he played a major role in opening up the American West to settlement by American pioneers. His reliable accounts, including published
maps, narrations, and scientific documentations of his expeditions, guided American emigrants
overland into the West starting in the mid 1840s. Frémont, popularly known as The Pathfinder
during his times, was considered an American hero. Many people believed that Frémont’s arrest
and court-martial by Kearny during the Mexican–American War were unjustified. During the Civil War, Frémont’s victory over
the Confederates at Springfield was the only successful Union battle in the Western Department
in 1861. Frémont’s reputation, however, was damaged
after he was relieved of command by Lincoln for insubordination. After leaving the Mountain Department in 1862,
Frémont’s active service career in the war virtually ended. Frémont’s 1861 promotion of Ulysses S. Grant,
going against the grain of Army gossip, was fruitful; Grant went on to become the greatest
Union general. He invested heavily in the railroad industry,
but the Panic of 1873 wiped out Frémont’s fortune, and his appearance thereafter looked
tired and aging. Frémont is remembered for his planting of
the American flag on the Rocky Mountains during his first expedition, symbolically claiming
the West for the United States. For his botanical records and information
collected on his explorations, many plants are named in honor of Frémont. A large statue/sculpture of Frémont is displayed
at Pathfinder Regional Park near Florence, Colorado.In his memoirs, Frémont coined the
phrase “Golden Gate” for the strait between Marin County and San Francisco County. Frémont’s biographer Allan Nevins said there
were two fascinating things about Frémont. The first was the “unfailing drama of his
life; a life wrought out of the fiercest tempests and most radiant bursts of sunshine”. The second was Frémont’s dramatic career
asking, “How could the man who sometimes succeeded so dazzlingly at other times fail so abysmally?” Nevins said that Frémont’s psychological
problem was in part attributed to his inheritance of impulsiveness and brilliancy from his “emotionally
and ill-balanced” parents. Nevins said Frémont was encouraged by his
parents to heighten his inherited self-reliant, heedless, and adventuresome traits and that
he lacked the discipline his passionate spirit and quick mind most needed.Concerning Frémont’s
tenure as Commander of the West, Lincoln thought Frémont was personally honest, but his “cardinal
mistake” was that “he isolates himself, and allows nobody to see him; and by which he
does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with.” Many historians are in agreement with Lincoln.According
to Rebecca Solnit, in 2006, the celebrated murders of Californios Berryessa and his two
nephews on the shores of San Rafael, commanded by Frémont during the Bear Flag Revolt on
June 28, 1846, highlighted a dubious path to California’s statehood. Solnit believed that Frémont’s unpopularity
in California, while Frémont was a Republican candidate during the presidential election
of 1856, and losing the state, was in part due to this incident. Although their killings are not disputed,
the events surrounding their deaths are in controversy. Frémont and his men may have been taking
revenge on the deaths of two Osos by Californios. Frémont may have mistaken the de Haro brothers
for soldiers, while others contend that the murders represented the racism of the white
Osos. Berryessa and his two nephews may have been
considered Indians by European Americans, and received harsher treatment from Frémont
and Carson.==Family==The Frémonts were the parents of five children: Elizabeth Benton “Lily” Frémont, who was
born in Washington, DC on November 15, 1842. She died in Los Angeles on May 28, 1919. Benton Frémont was born in Washington on
July 24, 1848; he died in St. Louis before he was a year old. John Charles Frémont Jr., was born in San
Francisco on April 19, 1851. He served in the United States Navy from 1868
to 1911, and attained the rank of rear admiral. He served as commander of the monitor USS
Florida (1903–05), naval attaché to Paris and St. Petersburg (1906–08), commander
of the battleship USS Mississippi (1908–09) and, finally as commandant of the Boston Navy
Yard (1909–11). He died in Boston, Massachusetts on March
7, 1911. Anne Beverly Fremont was born in France on
February 1, 1853, and died five months later. Francis Preston Fremont was born on May 17,
1855. He died in Cuba in September 1931.==Plant eponyms====Places and organizations named in commemoration
==Frémont is commemorated by many places and
other things named in his honor.===Places===US counties:
Fremont County, Colorado Fremont County, Idaho
Fremont County, Iowa Fremont County, WyomingCities and towns: Fremont, California (the largest city that
bears his name) Fremont, Indiana
Fremont, Michigan Fremont, Minnesota and Fremont Township, Minnesota
Fremont, Nebraska Fremont, New Hampshire
Fremont, Steuben County, New York Fremont, Sullivan County, New York
Fremont, Ohio Fremont, Utah
Fremont, Clark County, Wisconsin Fremont, Waupaca County, Wisconsin (town)
Fremont, Wisconsin, (village; also in Waupaca County)Also: Fremont, Seattle, a neighborhood established
by migrants from Fremont, Nebraska.Geographical features: Fremont Peak (Wyoming) in the Wind River Mountains
Fremont Peak (California) in San Benito County, California
Fremont Peak (Arizona) in the San Francisco Peaks
Fremont Pass (Colorado), a pass over the Continental Divide near the headwaters of the Arkansas
River Fremont Island in the Great Salt Lake
Fremont Canyon on the North Platte River in Wyoming
Pathfinder Reservoir on the North Platte, just upstream from Fremont Canyon
Fremont River (Utah), a tributary of the Colorado RiverOther: Fremont–Winema National Forest in Oregon
The John C. Fremont Trail (the path of Fremont’s march into Santa Barbara, California in December
1846) Fremont Campground in the Los Padres National
Forest Fremont Bridge (Portland, Oregon)
Fremont Bridge (Seattle, Washington) Fremont Street (Las Vegas, Nevada)===Organizations===
Hospitals: John C. Fremont Hospital, Mariposa, California
(where Frémont and his wife lived during the Gold Rush)
Fremont Hospital, Yuba City, CaliforniaLibraries: John C. Fremont Branch Library on Melrose
Avenue in Los Angeles. John C. Fremont Library in Florence, ColoradoSchools
and school districts: John C. Fremont Senior High School, Los Angeles
Fremont High School (Oakland, California) Fremont High School (Sunnyvale, California);
its annual yearbook is The Pathfinder Fremont-Elizabeth City High School, Elizabeth,
South Australia (a sister city of Fremont, California, which also has a Fremont Park)
Fremont Unified School District, Fremont, California
Fremont Junior High School, Mesa, Arizona Fremont High School, Plain City, Utah===Other commemorations===
The prehistoric Fremont culture, first discovered near the Fremont River
The United States honored Frémont in 1898 with a commemorative stamp as part of the
Trans-Mississippi Issue. The Fremont Cannon, the “largest and most
expensive trophy in college football is a replica of a cannon that accompanied Captain
John C. Frémont on his expedition through Oregon, Nevada and California in 1843–44”. The annual game between the University of
Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is for possession of it. The Pathfinder Chorus, a barbershop chorus
in Fremont, Nebraska. The Fremont Pathfinders Artillery Battery,
an American Civil War reenactment group from Fremont, Nebraska. The U.S. Army’s (now inactive) 8th Infantry
Division (Mechanized) is called the Pathfinder Division, after Frémont. The gold arrow on the 8th ID crest is called
the “Arrow of General Frémont”. The 8th Division was based at Camp Fremont
in Menlo Park, California during World War I. In 2013, the Georgia Historical Society erected
a historical marker at the birthplace of John C. Frémont in Savannah, Georgia.==Depictions in popular culture=====Literature===
Dream West (1983), a biographical novel about Frémont by Western writer David Nevin. In the 1992 alternate history novel The Guns
of the South by Harry Turtledove, Frémont runs for president in the 1864 election on
a breakaway Radical Republican ticket with Andrew Johnson as his running mate. The ticket comes in third place in the popular
vote and last in the electoral, getting 10.8% of the popular vote with 436,337 votes and
carrying only three electoral votes from Kansas.===Television===
Death Valley Days, season 15, episode 8, “Samaritans, Mountain Style” (1966). Frémont’s (Dick Simmons) scouts Kit Carson
and Frenchy Godey encounter a settler in bad trouble. The Wonderful World of Disney, season 23,
episodes 10 and 11, “Kit Carson and the Mountain Men” (1977). Frémont Robert Reed appears as Carson’s superior
Dream West, television mini-series adaptation of David Nevin’s biographical novel about
Frémont (Richard Chamberlain).===Film===
Kit Carson (1940). Captain Frémont (Dana Andrews) hires Carson
as his scout.==Gallery====See also==Frémont Emancipation==Notes====References====Sources====Further reading====External links==
Finding Frémont Exhibit Des Chutes Historical Museum in Bend, Oregon 2015
Oil Portrait of John Charles Frémont, 1878–1882 Territorial Governor of Arizona
Mr. Lincoln and Freedom: John C. Frémont United States Congress. “John C. Frémont (id: F000374)”. Biographical Directory of the United States
Congress. Retrieved on 2009-05-01
The Generals of the American Civil War – Pictures of John Charles Frémont
Guide to the Frémont Family Papers at The Bancroft Library
Memoirs of my life : including in the narrative five journeys of western explorations during
the years 1842, 1843–4, 1845–6–7, 1848–9, 1853–4 by John c. Fremont
Address of welcome to General John C. Fremont, governor of Arizona territory, upon the occasion
of his reception by his associates of the Association Pioneers of the Territorial Days
of California, at their headquarters, Sturtevant House, New York, on … August 1, 1878
“Las Mariposas” Photos of Frémont’s Mariposa gold estate taken in 1860. PDF
Birthplace of John C. Frémont historical marker – Georgia Historical Society
Fremont’s Travels 1838–1854 Map Works by John C. Frémont at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about John C. Frémont at Internet Archive
Texts on Wikisource: “Frémont, John Charles”. New International Encyclopedia. 1905. “Frémont, John Charles”. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900. Obituary in: “Obituary Notes”. Popular Science Monthly. 37. September 1890. “To John C. Fremont,” a poem from In War Time
by John Greenleaf Whittier

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