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Arts by Dylan: John C. Fremont Canvas

Arts by Dylan: John C. Fremont Canvas

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Artist: William Smith Jewett d.u.k

John Charles Fremont was born in Georgia his father Charles Fremon left France in the 1790's for political reasons and arrived in Virginia.  He met Anne Pryor who was married and they began having an affair.  When Anne's husband found out about the affair she left with Charles to Georgia.  John Charles Fremont was born in Savannah on Jan 21, 1813.  His family moved around in his early years, from Nashville to Norfolk and then finally to Charleston South Carolina. 

His father died in 1817 when John was 4 years old.  One of Fremont's  early mentors was a Charleston lawyer named John Robertson who he bgan to clerk for.  He did such a great job that John Robertson decided to pay for his education.  Fremont's formal education began when he was 13 years old.  He learned Greek and Latin and enrolled in college in 1829 at 16 years old. 

A year later he began to seek the outdoors more and more and lost interest in studying inside a classroom. He enjoyed reading adventure stories about explorers and he became fascinated with maps and astronomy when he came across an Astronomy Textbook written in Dutch while at the college in Charleston.  

After he got expelled from school he met another mentor Joel Poinsett who disliked slavery, loved the Union, and wanted to see the USA expand west.  Joel Poinsett helped shaped Fremont's political views at an early age.  At 22 years old Fremont was hired by the US Navy to be a teacher of Mathematics.  He sailed for South America teaching sailors how to use mathematics and astronomy to navigate the seas. 

Joel Poinsett got young Fremont his first job as a surveyor in the US Army's Beurour of Topographical Engineers.  When President Martin Van Buren appointed Joel Poinsett as his Secretary of War Fremont became an engineer. Eventually Fremont began leading small expditions to survey railroad construction in the South and in the North.  

This experience eventually made him the ideal candidate to lead an expedition West. In 1842 he was sent to explore a route from Missouri to the Columbia River similiar to the route of Lewis and Clark 40 years earlier.  This route became known as "The Oregon Trail" on a second expedition a couple years later he blazed a new path along a southern route which took him across New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and then north in California to Oregon, this became known as "The Santa Fe Trail."  His accounts and maps of these expeditions were published by Congress in the thousands and earned him the knickname "The Pathfinder" and made him a national celebrity. He famously put "Las Vegas on the Map" when he wrote about the fresh water in a valley along the virgin river.  He also named the entrance of the SF Bay from the Pacific "The Golden Gate" in his memoir; eventaully a bridge was also built along this small stretch of water. 

In 1846 Fremont was leading a third expedition from Missouri to the west.  He was ordered only to enter Mexican land (California) only if it was necessary for his survey.  Unknown to Fremont at the time was the fact that more Americans began settling and living in Mexico's territory named California.  The mission towns of San Francisco and Sonoma began increasing in population, also the Americans were also increasingly becoming unhappy with the poorly governed territory.  Mexico had only a handful of poorly trained and often times drunk and disorderly military personal in the towns, there were few pathways to settle disputs in a court system and information from towns to the Capital in Monterey to Mexico City and back were slow and often times non existent.  In the land that encompusses all of modern day California there were only a few hundred Mexicans who "governed" the land.  

In June of 1846 in the town of Sonoma California tensions rose and Americans overthrew their Mexican rulers and improsoned General Mariano Vallejo.  The flag was created by William Todd who was the nephew of Mary Todd Lincoln the future First Lady of the USA.  These pioneering Americans heard that John C. Fremont's expedition was near and asked for his support in overtaking the Mexicans in Monterey.  

Disregarding strict orders not to intervene in the political affairs in Mexican territories John C. Fremont assisted in the Bear Flag Revolt and the overthrow of Mexican rule in California.  Commordore Robert Stockton gave an order for Fremont to become the Governor of California, however General Kearny thought he whould be the one for the job.  Eventually Kearny got Fremont court marshalled for his involvement in the Bear Flag Revolt and he was discharged from the army.  President Polk told Fremont he could be reinstated immediatly but Fremont refused.  

In 1850 California held a Constitutional Convention and the State Legislature included State Senator Mariano Vallejo who was once imprisoned by Americans.  The State Legislature voted John C. Fremont to be the first US Senator of California. 

For a short period as Senator Fremont irritated a lot of people because of his abolitionist stance on slavery. In 1856 he ran for President under the new political party called The Republican Party.  He lost but his abolitionist message struck a nerve among the Americanpublic. 

When Lincoln won he appointed Fremont to be the Commander of the West.  It was in August of 1861 when Fremont disobeyed orders again and issued an emancipation proclamation to all the slaves in Missouri.  This irritated Lincoln at the time who relieved him of that command and put him with another General in Virginia.  Lincoln also siezed his land in San Francisco California and turned his home into Fort Mason.  About a century later his descendents argued in a federal court case that Lincoln had illegal siezed private land for no reason.  

Two years later and after the battle of Antietem Abraham Lincoln would issue his own emancipation proclamation.

Eventually Fremont would move on and become Governor of New Mexico before he died broke after making bad investments in railroad schemes. 

He is buried and laid to rest in New York. 

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