Explorer; born in Savannah, Ga.
, Jan. 21, 1813; graduated at Charleston College in 1830.
His father was a Frenchman, and his mother a Virginian.
He was instructor in mathematics in the United States navy from 1833 to 1835.
Engaged in surveying the Cherokee
country in the winter of 1837-38, he began his famous explorations, first in the country between the Missouri River
and the British
He had been appointed second lieutenant of topographical engineers in July.
In 1841 he married a daughter of Senator Thomas H. Benton
, and in May, 1842, he began, under the authority of the government, the exploration of an overland route to the Pacific Ocean
He ascended the highest peak of the Wind River Mountains
, which was afterwards named Fremont
He explored the Great Salt Lake
region in 1843, and penetrated to the Pacific
near the mouth of the Columbia River
In 1845 he explored the Sierra Nevada
, and in 1846 became involved in hostilities with the Mexicans on the Pacific coast
He assisted in the conquest of California
; was appointed its military governor; and, after its admission as a State, became one of its first United States Senators
He continued his explorations after the war. For his scientific researches, Fremont
received, in 1850, a gold medal from the King
, and another from the Royal Geographical Society of London
He had already received from his countrymen the significant title of “The Pathfinder.”
At his own expense he made a fifth exploration, in 1853, and found a new route to the Pacific
In 1856, the newly formed Republican party nominated him for the Presidency of the United States
, and he received 114 electoral votes against 174 given for Buchanan
Returning from Europe
in May, 1861, and being appointed a major-general in the United States army, he was assigned to command the Western Department; but,
through the intrigues of ambitious politicians, was removed from the co mand in the course of six months, while successfully prosecuting a campaign he had planned.
He was in command of another department, but resigned in 1862, declining to serve under an officer inferior to him in rank.
Radical Republicans nominated him for the Presidency in 1864, after which he took leave of political life; but he became active in promoting the construction of a transcontinental railway.
He died in New York, July 13, 1890.
In the spring of 1845 Captain Fremont
was sent by his government to explore the great basin and the maritime region of Oregon
He crossed the
, in the dead of winter, from Great Salt Lake
, with between sixty and seventy men, to obtain supplies.
Leaving them in the valley of the San Joaquin
, he went to Monterey
, then the capital of the province of California
, to obtain permission from the Mexican
authorities to continue his explorations.
It was given, but was almost immediately withdrawn, and he was peremptorily ordered to leave the country without delay.
He refused, when General de Castro
, the Mexican
governor, mustered the forces of the province to expel him. At length he was permitted to go on with his explorations without hinderance.
On May 9, 1846, he received despatches from his government, directing him to watch the movements of the Mexicans in California
, who seemed disposed to hand the province over to the British
It was also rumored that General de Castro
intended to destroy all the American
settlements on the Sacramento River
hurried back to California
, and found De Castro
on the march against the settlements.
The settlers flew to arms, and joined Fremont
's camp, and, under his leadership, these settlements were not only saved, but the Mexican
authorities were driven out of California
and his followers met General de Castro
and his forces, strong in numbers, when Fremont
retired about 30 miles, to a mountain position, where he called around him the American
settlers in that region.
With these he captured a Mexican post at Sonoma Pass (June 15, 1846), with nine cannon and 250 muskets.
was routed, and on July 5 the Americans
declared themselves independent, and elected Fremont
governor of the province.
He then proceeded to join the American
naval forces at Monterey
, under Commodore Stockton
, who had lately arrived, with authority from Washington
to conquer California
appeared there with 160 mounted riflemen.
On Aug. 17, 1846, Stockton
took possession of the city of Los Angeles
; and at that place General Kearny
, who had just taken possession of New Mexico
, joined Stockton
, Dec. 27, 1846.
would not sanction the election of Fremont
as governor of California
, and on Feb. 8, 1847, assuming that office himself, he declared the annexation of California
to the United States
refused to obey General Kearny
, his superior officer, who sent him to Washington
under arrest, where he was tried by a court-martial, which sentenced him to be dismissed from the service, but recommended him to the clemency of the President
The penalty was remitted, and in October, 1848, Fremont
entered upon his fourth exploration among the far western mountains.
See Kearny, Stephen Watts
, Robert field.
was in Europe
when the Civil War
broke out, and, leaving on receiving notice of his appointment to the army, he returned home, bringing with him arms for the government.
He arrived in Boston
on June 27, and July 6 he was appointed to the command of the Western Department, just created.
He arrived at St. Louis
July 26, where he made his headquarters.
He found disorder everywhere.
The terms of enlistment of home guards, or three-months' men, were expiring, and they were unwilling to reenlist.
He had very little money or arms at his disposal, and was unable to send aid to General Lyon
, in the southwestern portion of the State
, battling with the Confederates
He resolved to assume grave responsibilities.
He applied to the United States
Treasurer at St. Louis
for a portion of $300,000 in his hands, but was refused.
He was about to seize $100,000 of it when the officer yielded: and, with the money, Fremont
secured the re-enlistment of many of the home guards.
He strongly fortified St. Louis
, and prepared to place the important post at Cairo
in a position of absolute security.
With nearly 4,000 troops on steamers, he proceeded to Cairo
with such a display that the impression was general that lie had 12,000.
Although large bodies of Confederate troops in Kentucky
were gathered for the purpose of seizing Cairo
and Bird's Point
was not molested in his mission, and Prentiss
, at the former place, was amply strengthened.
, who had advanced in that direction, fell back, and became very discreet.
returned to St. Louis
on Aug. 4, having accomplished his wishes
and spread alarm among the Confederates
, at Memphis
, ordered Pillow
to evacuate New Madrid, with his men and heavy guns, and hasten to Randolph
and Fort Pillow
, on the Tennessee
When news of the battle at Wilson's Creek
, and the death of Lyon
, reached St. Louis
, the Confederates
immediately proclaimed martial law, and appointed a provost-marshal.
Some of the most active Confederates were arrested, and the publication of newspapers charged with disloyalty was suspended.
But the condition of public affairs in Missouri
was becoming more and more alarming.
The provisional government was almost powerless.
took all authority into his own hands.
Confederates were arrested and imprissoned, and disloyalty of every kind felt the force of his power.
He proclaimed that the property, real and personal, of all persons in Missouri
who should be proven to have taken an active part with the enemies of the government in the field should be confiscated to the public use, and their slaves, if they had any, should thereafter be free men (see emancipation proclamations
). As he acted promptly in accordance with his proclamation, great consternation began to prevail.
At that moment his hand was stayed.
Because of his avowed determination to confiscate the property and free the slaves of the disloyalists, a storm of indignation suddenly arose in the border slave States, which alarmed the national government, and the President
, wishing to placate the rebellious spirit of those States, requested Fremont
to modify his proclamation on these points.
He declined to do so, when the President
, at Fremont
's request, issued an order for such a modification.
could not, for it would imply that he thought the measure wrong, which he did not.
was censured for his failure to reinforce Colonel Mulligan
The public knew very little of his embarrassments at that time.
Pressing demands came for reinforcements from General Grant
At various points in his department were heard cries for help, and a peremptory order came from General Scott
for him to forward 5,000 troops immediately to Washington, D. C.
, notwithstanding McClellan
numbered 75,000 within easy call of the capital.
's force, never exceeding 56,000, was scattered over his department.
Chafing under unjust complaints, he proceeded to put into execution his plan of ridding the Mississippi Valley
His plan contemplated the capture or dispersion of troops under General Price
, and the seizure of Little Rock, Ark.
By so doing, he expected to turn the position of Pillow
and others in the vicinity of New Madrid, cut off the supplies from the southwest, and compel them to retreat, at which time a flotilla of gunboats, then building near St. Louis
, might descend the Mississippi
, and assist in military operations against the batteries at Memphis
In the event of this movement being successful, he proposed to push on towards the Gulf of Mexico
with his army, and take possession of New Orleans.
More than 20,000 soldiers were set in motion (Sept. 27, 1861) southward (5,000 of them cavalry), under the respective commands of Generals Hunter
, and Asboth
, accompanied by eighty-six heavy guns.
These were moving southward early in October; and on the 11th, when his army was 30,000 strong, he wrote to the government: “My plan is, New Orleans straight; I would precipitate the war forward, and end it soon victoriously.”
He was marching with confidence of success, and his troops were winning little victories here and there, when, through the influence of men jealous of him and his political enemies, Fremont
's career was suddenly checked.
False accusers, public and private, caused General Scott
to send an order for him to turn over his command to General Hunter
, then some distance in the rear.
arrived just as the troops were about to attack Price
He took the command, and countermanded Fremont
's orders for battle; and nine days afterwards Gen. H. W. Halleck
was placed in command of the Department of Missouri.
The disappointed and disheartened army were turned back, and marched to St. Louis
in sullen sadness.
Soon afterwards an elegant sword was presented to Fremont
, inscribed, “To the Pathfinder
, by the men of the West
Ascent of Fremont's Peak.
In the Journal
of his first expedition (1842), Fremont
gives a modest yet thrilling account of the ascent of the highest peak of the Rocky Mountains
and of the planting of “Old glory” on the extreme summit.
The altitude of this peak is given by Prof. F. V. Hayden
as 13,790 feet. The Journal
reads as follows: