Sunday, February 9, 2014

I'm a Dreamer

So says the famous John Charles Fremont, I'm a dreamer. And he dreams in Dream West by David Nevin, in a Signet Book copyright 1983, and the first Signet printing in January 1985, a 738-page saga of the life of John Charles Fremont and his wife, Jesse Benton Fremont.

As we trudge through the deep snow on his expedition for a way through the Sierras and later through the high mountain ranges of Colorado, we learn the trials and tribulations of being the "American Pathfinder", and not always a successful one. Born from a union of his French émigré father and his  mother who was married to another man who wouldn't give her a divorce, he married the daughter of the famous Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, who helped him in his difficult tasks of earning money for his expeditions. An Army lieutenant who did not graduate from West Point, he had a difficult time with the Regular West Pointers.

I followed him through his travels like an observer from the distance, as he struggled through the passes and finally become the unofficial Governor of California thanks to a Naval officer named Stockton, who later decries his appointment of him after the debacle of General Kearney at the town named after him, Stockton. Fremont is awarded a general courts-martial for overstepping the bounds of his authority, even though he was in the right, according to Dream West. Kearney interrupted Kit Carson's journey to Washington and made a fiasco of the fight for Stockton, losing several of his soldiers in an ill attempt to beat off the Mexicans.

And the story goes on to the period of the Civil War and Fremont is made a Major General and the head of the Army of the West in St. Louis, Missouri, where he repels General Price from his attempts to take over the State, but gets no glory from it because he overstepped his bounds again and declared Missouri a non-slavery State prematurely and against the wishes of the infant Republican Party and Lincoln, who was President.

While he was in California he hits a gold mine and builds a fine residence at Black Point on the San Francisco Bay that he later loses as the Army declares eminent domain and was renamed the Presidio. Fremont is never paid for his interests. He and his wife, Jesse, settle into life knowing that his career as an explorer and General is at an end, even though he once ran as the Republican's first Presidential candidate. Known as the "Pathfinder", which he hated, he wrote his memoirs and vanished into virtual obscurity.

I remember in high school history reading about him and his trailblazing and believe he got the shaft from General Kearney and the Army, but there are many towns and landmarks named after him.


  1. Just popping in to say hi and let you know I am still here even though I've been in me writer's cave deep in edits...Sinful Surrender is a book men will enjoy as much as women. I hope you read it and let me know what you think.

  2. Good to see dreamers. We need them. Sometimes I wish we still had more unexplored land here on earth to dream about what we might find there.

    1. Those dreamers are having a good time with Mars and Jupiter.