An Explorer's Training
THE first important gift of fortune in Frémont's lifeand he was to enjoy a long and spectacular series of such gifts--was the friendship of one of Charleston's most eminent citizens, Joel Roberts Poinsett. In the summer of 1830 Poinsett, then forty-nine, returned to Charleston after four and a half years as the first American Minister to Mexico. A member of St. Philip's and a friend of struggling Charleston College, he soon became acquainted with Frémont. He liked to give aid and advice to young men of promise, and singled out Edward McCrady, later known as general and historian, C. G. Memminger, who in time served in the Confederate Cabinet, and Frémont for special attention. All Frémont's distinction was destined to be won in government service, and it was Poinsett who obtained his first opening for him.
Perhaps Poinsett is best remembered to-day as introducer of the flamboyant poinsettia into the United States from Mexico. But actually he had many more valid titles to distinction.1 He was one of the best-educated and most widely traveled Americans of his day. The son of a cultivated and moderately wealthy physician of Charleston, he had been schooled partly in Charleston, partly in Timothy Dwight's academy in Connecticut, and partly in England. He had then studied medicine in Edinburgh, but had turned from it first for military training at Woolwich, and then for legal study in Charleston. His health had been permanently injured by his first application to books, but not to an extent which impaired his energies; in old age he used____________________