Frémont, Pathmarker of the West

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

XXIII Golconda and the Senate

THE dramatic vicissitudes which make é's life so romantic, the extraordinary alternations of disaster and good fortune which mark its course, were never better illustrated than now. Emerging from a humiliating courtmartial, he had just been thrown into the jaws of death, and had escaped only after terrible suffering and loss. But already Fortune was spinning her wheel. She was about to toss into his lap a seat in the Federal Senate, and an estate of such wealth that within a few years it would be valued by cool-headed business men at ten million dollars.

The rough notes of Frémont's which we have just printed indicate the general course of his overland journey from Taos. At Santa Fé, he dined with the military governor of the territory, Colonel Washington, and at Socorro with the local commandant. Pursuing a general southwesterly line, he penetrated well into Mexico, touching Santa Cruz in that republic, and then turned northwest toward Tucson in what is now Arizona. From the point where he reached the Gila, his line of march was along its south bank. Here one blazing forenoon he descried in the distance a cloud of dust, in which vague figures drifted along the river margin. Hurrying on, he overtook a whole community on the move--JessieFrémont says twelve hundred men, women, and children; babies crying, drivers hallooing, mules dragging lurching carts, and horses burdened with packs. Spurring up beside the rear guard, he asked, "Where are you going?""Alta California," came the reply. "Why such a crowd of you?" demanded the puzzled Frémont. "Gold! Gold!" was the answer.

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