Frémont, Pathmarker of the West

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

I
Charleston Boyhood

ABOUT John Charles Frémont's cradle hung as dark clouds as have surrounded the infancy of any notable American--the clouds of illegitimacy, poverty, and total uncertainty of the future. In his veins ran the blood of a strange and far from auspicious union; the union of an impulsive, warm-hearted, and wilful Virginia girl, and of a roving, adventurous, erratic French émigré. His earliest years were spent in wanderings from state to state, town to town, with his parents; from Georgia to Tennessee, from Virginia to South Carolina.

All this was a fitting overture to one of the stormiest, the most erratic, and the most adventurous of American careers. There are two great elements of interest in Frémont's biography. One lies simply in the unfailing drama of his life; a life romantically wrought out of the fiercest tempests and most radiant bursts of sunshine. From birth to death fortune gave him one sustained adventure. His fate carried him along our wildest frontiers, into the clash of national ambitions in the Far West, up to the higher reaches of party politics, through the thick of the Civil War, and into the thorniest jungles of post-bellum finance. It was no mean destiny. To explore more of the West than any other single man, to be a leading figure in the conquest of California, to be the first candidate of a great party for the Presidency, to pen a book that helped in molding now-populous communities, to rise from poverty to millions and sink to poverty again, to leave a name written across the geography of one-third of the continent--this constitutes an absorbing story. It tells us much of the United

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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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