Frémont, Pathmarker of the West

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

III
First View of the Great West

SECRETARY POINSETT, knowing what Frémont most wanted, brought him to Washington early in 1838 and took steps to have him commissioned second lieutenant in the Topographical Corps. The young man arrived in the capital at an auspicious moment. The War Department had determined upon a new western survey--an examination of the wide plateau country between the upper Mississippi and upper Missouri rivers; and a distinguished foreign scientist, Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, had been chosen to conduct it. Poinsett planned to include his protégé in the expedition. When Frémont heard of his assignment, he was exuberantly elated. The flat, frowsy little capital had at first seemed a distasteful place to him. He possessed no friends outside Poinsett's family; there were no amusements beyond watching the alternate reigns of mud and dust along the single important street, Pennsylvania Avenue; and the ugliness of the surroundings weighed upon his spirits. He missed such spots as the Battery in Charleston, where both eye and mind could feel their freedom; space, he moralized later,1 "reacts on the mind, which unconsciously expands to larger limits and freer range of thought." His body was so inured to constant exercise that a routine of streets, offices, and boarding-houses affected him with physical malaise. To be sent to the romantic West, the land of Indians, buffalo, and stupendous natural wonders, was an incredible bit of luck. He went forward with little delay to St. Louis, making the trip by stage over the Alleghenies and steamboat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi.

____________________
1
Frémont, Memoirs, p. 30.

-29-

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Frémont, Pathmarker of the West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • I- Charleston Boyhood 1
  • II- An Explorer''s Training 19
  • III- First View of the Great West 29
  • IV- Washington Courtship 46
  • V- A Runaway Marriage 60
  • Vl the Stakes of the West 72
  • VII- The First Expedition 89
  • IX- The First Report 116
  • X- The Second Expedition- Outward Bound 127
  • XI- Over the Winter Sierras 147
  • Xll Sutter''s Fort and California 161
  • Xlll Homeward over the Rockies 175
  • XIV- Washington Expansionists and the Far West 190
  • XV- The Third Expedition 206
  • XVI- A Clash with Californians 217
  • XVII- The Message from Gillespie 234
  • XVIII- The Bear Flag Outbreak 253
  • XIX- The California Battalion 287
  • XX- The Quarrel with Kearny 305
  • XXI- A Famous Court-Martial 327
  • XXII- Starvation and Cannibalism 343
  • XXIII- Golconda and the Senate 373
  • XXIV- Managing the Mariposas 393
  • XXV- The Fifth Expedition 408
  • XXVI- The Republican Nomination 421
  • XXVII- The Campaign of 1856 439
  • XXVIII- New Mariposa Troubles 459
  • XXIX- Civil War in the West 473
  • XXX- Frémont vs. Blair and Lincoln 503
  • XXXI- The End of the "Hundred Days" 529
  • XXXII- The Mountain Department 550
  • XXXIII 564
  • XXXIV- A Financial Debacle 583
  • XXXV- Poverty and Labor 602
  • XXXVI- Character and Fame 612
  • XXXVII - Some New Light on Frémont 623
  • Appendix I- Frémont''s Children 663
  • Bibliographical Note 671
  • Index 675
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