(15.) JOHN CHARLES FREMONT (1813-1890)
“The Pathfinder”
Republican Fremont/William Dayton
Defeated by Democrat James Buchanan/John C. Breckinridge, 1856

Fremont was the first candidate for president by the New Republican party. He was an explorer, a politician, and an engineer in the U. S. Topographical Corps with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. His explorations of the upper Mississippi and the Missouri River gave him the name of “Pathfinder.” His marriage to Jessie Benton, the daughter of Senator Benton of Missouri, added influence to his work. He was responsible for establishing several routes over the Rocky Mountains, was active in the conquest of California during the Mexican War, and was appointed governor.

His political genius developed in the winning of the Southwest, especially in California where he played a controversial role in a quarrel with General Kearney, which led to a court martial in Washington for Fremont. He was found guilty of disobedience to President Polk who remitted the sentence when Fremont resigned from the army.

In 1850, Fremont was elected as California’s first U. S. Senator. After his defeat for the presidency, he was a major-general in the Civil War, but his radical attitude against slave holders led to his resignation. From 1878 to 1881 he was governor of Arizona territory and in 1890 Congress restored his military rank with full pay.