Famed explorer and adventurer John Charles Fremont was born on this day, 203 years ago in 1813. In honor of the occasion, my book, The Biographies of John Charles Fremont, is now available in a Kindle edition from Amazon for free through the weekend (Sunday January 24). As always, the book remains free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Dubbed “The Pathfinder” for having conducted some of the first rigorous scientific explorations of the American west, emigrants used his maps and reports as their guide to Oregon and California. Fremont was instrumental in the military campaigns which secured California for the United States, only to be arrested and court-martialed for mutiny and insubordination.Leaving his life savings in the hands of a trusted associate to buy a ranch near San Jose, his friend bought the ranch for himself and inexplicably bought Fremont a vast tract of mountain wasteland – that ended up in the heart of the following year’s gold rush.
Nominated the young Republican party’s first candidate for president, Fremont lost the 1856 election in a bitterly contested campaign. Appointed one of four major-generals at the outbreak of the Civil War, Fremont was placed in command of the Department of the West. Succeeding in holding wavering Missouri for the Union, Lincoln relieved him of his command amid allegations of widespread corruption. Having earned a fortune from his California gold holdings, he was impoverished by railway speculation. Fremont’s life was a series of glorious triumphs and dismal defeats. Through it all, he remained a figure adored by some and despised by others.
This short book (~70 pages) considers the development of the Fremont biography, analyzing works about the life and career of John Charles Fremont in their historical context.