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John C. Frémont

John Charles Frémont or Fremont (January 21, 1813July 13, 1890) was an American explorer, politician, and soldier who, in 1856, became the first candidate of the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, when he led five expeditions into the American West, that era's penny press and admiring historians accorded Frémont the sobriquet ''The Pathfinder''.

During the Mexican–American War, Frémont, a major in the U.S. Army, took control of California from the California Republic in 1846. Frémont was convicted in court martial for mutiny and insubordination over a conflict of who was the military Governor of California. After his sentence was commuted and he was reinstated by President Polk, Frémont resigned from the Army. Frémont led a private fourth expedition, which cost ten lives, seeking a rail route over the mountains around the 38th parallel in the winter of 1849. Afterwards, Frémont settled in California at Monterey while buying cheap land in the Sierra foothills. When gold was found on his Mariposa ranch, Frémont became a wealthy man during the California Gold Rush, but he was soon bogged down with lawsuits over land claims, between the dispossession of various land owners during the Mexican–American War and the explosion of Forty-Niners immigrating during the Rush. These cases were settled by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing Frémont to keep his property. Frémont's fifth and final privately funded expedition between 1853 and 1854, surveyed a route for a transcontinental railroad. Frémont became one of the first two U.S. senators elected from the new state of California in 1850. Frémont was the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party, carrying most of the North. He lost the 1856 presidential election to Democrat James Buchanan when Know-Nothings split the vote and Democrats warned his election would lead to civil war.

During the American Civil War, he was given command of Department of the West by President Abraham Lincoln. Although Frémont had successes during his brief tenure as Commander of the Western Armies, he ran his department autocratically, and made hasty decisions without consulting Washington D.C. or President Lincoln. After Frémont's emancipation edict that freed slaves in his district, he was relieved of his command by President Lincoln for insubordination. In 1861, Frémont was the first commanding Union general who recognized in Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant an "iron will" to fight and promoted him commander at the strategic base near Cairo, Illin...
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