Name: Fremont, John C.
Category: Politics and Government
Born/Started: Jan. 21, 1813
Died/Ended: Jul. 13, 1890
Description: U.S. Army General John Fremont was assigned by President Lincoln to command the Western Department during the Civil War, headquartered in Missouri. He was more concerned with freeing slaves than saving the Union and ordered all slaves owned by Missouri secessionists to be freed.
Born on January 21, 1813 in Savannah, GA, Fremont established himself as a national hero before the Civil War. During the 1840’s, he led trailblazing expeditions across the Rocky Mountains and played a significant role in the campaign to win California from Mexico
He was a strong supporter of the Republican Party and won the affection of many Northerners during the presidential campaign of 1856, the first won by the Republicans. Fremont was one of four major generals appointed by President Abraham Lincoln at the outset of the Civil War, receiving his commission on May 14, 1861. Fremont made the controversial decision to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars fortifying the city of St. Louis, while his field commanders were left ill equipped and inadequately supported. Union defeats at Springfield and Lexington, MO turned many of Fremont’s supporters against him. The general’s impetuous order freeing all slaves owned by Missouri secessionists, known as Fremont’s Emancipation Proclamation, cost him Lincoln’s confidence.
In October 1861, Fremont was relieved of all duties as a Union commander, but absence from the public eye was short-lived. In March 1862, he returned to service as commander of the newly created Mountain Department. He again proved unequal to his task, as he was defeated in a confrontation with Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Shortly thereafter, Major General John Pope was named as his superior, which prompted Fremont to request relief from all of his duties.
In the presidential election of 1864, he made a weak attempt to head an independent third party. Between 1878 and 1883, he served as territorial governor of Arizona. During his later years, he depended heavily upon his wife’s income as a writer. His wife was Jessie Benton, the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton.
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