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[185] could do. His prompt removal made it sure that he should not do it again.

It was the misfortune of Fremont that his independence caused him to clash with selfish interests, and he was sacrificed. He was selected for the Trans-Mississippi command by the Blairs, evidently with the expectation that he would bend to their wishes. He soon showed that he was his own master, and the trouble began. The Union people of his department were mostly with him, but the Blairs had control of the administration in Washington.

As for his freedom proclamation, it was, to a certain extent, an act of insubordination, but it was right in principle and sound in policy. Its adoption by the General Government would have saved four years of contention and turmoil in Missouri, spent in upholding a tottering institution that was doomed from the first shot of the Rebellion. The President, however, for reasons elsewhere explained, did not at that time want slavery interfered with.

The story of Fremont's fall is best told by Whittier in four lines:

Thy error, Fremont, simply was to act
A brave man's part without the statesman's tact,
And, taking counsel but of common-sense,
To strike at cause as well as consequence.

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