Frémont, Pathmarker of the West

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

XXV
The Fifth Expedition

THE background of Frémont's fifth and last expedition was the now fully awakened rivalry of North and South over the route of the first transcontinental railroad. It was evident to every one acquainted with the West that the plains and mountains could be traversed by not merely one but numerous railways. But the nation was unlikely to give Federal aid to more than one at a time, and each section felt it important to prove that the most practicable and economical route lay westward from its own portals. Many Northerners were suspicious of the five surveys for which Congress had appropriated $150,000; they were not astonished when Secretary Jefferson Davis, after their completion, declared that the line along the thirty-second parallel--that is, the southernmost route--was clearly the best. It was to counteract the plans of the Southerners that Benton and other advocates of a central route encouraged Frémont, doubtless by financial assistance as well as applause, in his new expedition.1

Indeed, Benton believed that Southern interests had laid an elaborate plot to defeat a central railroad to the Pacific and build a line westward from Texas instead. In a letter to citizens

____________________
1
As early as the spring of 1850 Benton's interest in a railroad to the Pacific was keen. He, Asa Whitney, and Robert J. Walker all had plans, and Benton obtained a good deal of newspaper publicity for his ideas. He proposed to build a railroad from St. Louis to San Francisco, with branches to the Columbia River, Salt Lake City, and Santa Fé; to apply the proceeds of public-land sales to the object; and to sell mortgage bonds in anticipation of this revenue. He wished the government to complete a wagon-road to the Pacific within a year, and a railroad within seven years. Like Frémont, he believed the line between the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth parallels would furnish the best route. Indeed, he and Frémont were partners in supporting the consideration of this line. See New York Tribune, April 3, April 5, 1850.

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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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