Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

Fremont's First Impressions: The Original Report of His Exploring Expeditions of 1842-1844

Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

Fremont's First Impressions: The Original Report of His Exploring Expeditions of 1842-1844

Article excerpt

FREMONT'S FIRST IMPRESSIONS: THE ORIGINAL REPORT OF HIS EXPLORING EXPEDITIONS OF 1842-1844

by John C. Fremont

introduction by Anne F. Hyde

University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2012.

Tables, notes. 392 pages. $28.95 paper.

The University of Nebraska Press' Bison Books has recently reprinted John Charles Fremont's account of his 1842 and 1843-1844 Western explorations in a new edition, Fremont's First Impressions: The Original Report of His Exploring Expeditions of 1842-1844. Initially published by Congress in 1845, Fremont's work spurred and guided thousands of migrants westward during the great mid-century rush to California and Oregon, and it accorded "The Great Pathfinder" the truly national reputation that would culminate in his 1856 presidential campaign. Inviting fresh perspective on a landmark text in the history of the American West, this new volume reads cleanly and has much to offer contemporary readers of diverse interests.

Two discrete reports comprise the whole of the book, which consists of Fremont's nearly daily entries in his travel logbook. The first part tracks Fremont's 1842 overland expedition along the Oregon Trail to South Pass and his infamous ascent of the peak he, mistakenly believing it to be the Rockies' highest, named after himself. The second report follows Fremont and his party in 1843 as they once again set out westward from St. Louis, this time following the Snake and Columbia rivers to Fort Vancouver, then heading south to California, across the Sierra Nevada and through the Great Basin, and returning to Missouri in the following year. Together, the accounts of these two journeys present a view of the American West rivaled in breadth by few works of the nineteenth century.

Stylistically, the book balances a considerable amount of descriptive observation and the mountain of barometric readings and geographic coordinates all too familiar to readers of the genre with engrossing accounts of the day-to-day adventure and intrigue of western exploration. …

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