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John C. Frémont
Fremont (2).jpg
11th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1865
Vice President Hannibal Hamlin
Abraham Lincoln
Preceded by Winfield Scott
Succeeded by Abraham Lincoln
Envoy to the Court of St. James's
In office
18 April 1869 – 15 May 1873
Preceded by Charles Francis Adams Sr.
Succeeded by Robert C. Schenck
Vice President of the United States
In office
4 March 1849 – 4 March 1857
Preceded by Winfield Scott
Succeeded by Abraham Lincoln
United States Senator from California
In office
10 September 1848 – 4 March 1849
Preceded by None (inaugural holder)
Succeeded by John B. Weller
Personal details
Born 21 January 1813
Savannah, Georgia
Died 5 July 1895 (aged 82)
Galena, Illinois
Political party Whig (until 1856)
Republican (after 1856)
Spouse(s) Jesse Benton Frémont
Children 1

John C. Frémont (21 January 1813 – 5 July 1895), known as the Pathfinder from the 1840s and as the Great Emancipator and the Great Unifier during and after his time in office, was the eleventh President of the United States, serving from 4 March 1849 to 4 March 1857, a period of two full terms in office. A younger officer in the United States Army, Frémont had a major hand in the admittance of California to the Union as a free state in the 1840s following war with Mexico. He played a critical role in the early development of state politics there. After gaining fame for his exploits in these endeavors, he was nominated by the Whig National Convention of 1848 to serve as Whig candidate and sitting Vice President Winfield Scott's running mate. He served as the energetic – and sometimes more brash – subordinate to the ageing General-turned President, though provided critical input and assistance in maintaining the Union through the secession and slavery crises of the 1850s. After Scott announced his intention to step down after his second term, Frémont, who had emerged as one of the leading figures of the new Republican Party (which was phasing out the Whigs at that time, who were collapsing under ideological disagreement), was nominated by the 1856 Republican National Convention. He scored a striking victory against prominent Democratic Senator Stephen A. Douglas amid rumors and mild hysteria that the Union would split at the seams.

Frémont's first term saw rise to a reinvigorated secessionist movement, which had been mostly calmed during Scott's time in office, and open threats, in Congress and elsewhere, of secession from the Union by various Southern states. He oversaw the continued expansion of the United States Navy in this period, as well as officially commissioned the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in mid-1860. The election that year saw the peak of tensions between North and South, as Democratic candidate John C. Breckinridge derided Frémont and threatened a general Southern secession unless Frémont and the Republican-dominated Congress officially banned discussion of abolishing slavery in any lands controlled by the United States. Though he won several Southern states, Frémont was unable to stem the tide of secession, and by the time of his second inauguration the Deep South had already seceded. Later that month, he issued the famous Goodwill Proclamation, pledging himself to the Union and reiterating his wishes to "live in harmony and contentment with all Americans". He urged Congress to adopt a constitutional amendment that would outlaw forced forfeiture or sale of property on threat of force by the government; however, this was too little too late, and the highly controversial Battle of Broad Street forced the remaining Southern states to secede. Frémont then led the Union through almost three years of civil war, which ended with the capitulation of the rebel Confederate government and the unification of the United States. For the remainder of his term he spearheaded the beginning of what would later become the Reconstruction program, which was carried on by his Vice President and successor, Abraham Lincoln.

Frémont's role in staving off civil war, strengthening the military, modernizing the economy, and seeing the North through to victory in the Civil War has earned him renown and acclaim from both scholars and the public alike in the decades following the war. His actions are regarded as having laid the groundwork for the "golden age" of the late 19th century in America, and is nearly always ranked among the top three greatest Presidents in American history. His election in 1856 also marked the first time that three Presidents in a row had served as the Vice President immediately beforehand (a "tradition" starting with Henry Clay in 1840, following the death of William Henry Harrison). This was continued with the election of Frémont's Vice President, Abraham Lincoln, in 1864, though ended there.

Biography

Early life

The Pathfinder

Vice President

Presidency

Life after politics

Death

Legacy