John Charles Frémont was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States.
Frémont led multiple expeditions in the West, including portions of the Oregon Trail and into the Sierra Nevada. Frémont was one of the first two senators from California, serving only a few months, from 1850 to 1851. He had previously served as Military Governor of California in 1847.
Frémont was the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856. It used the slogan “Free Soil, Free Men, and Frémont” to crusade for free farms (homesteads) and against the Slave Power. As was typical in presidential campaigns, the candidates stayed at home and said little. The Democrats meanwhile counter-crusaded against the Republicans, warning that a victory by Frémont would bring civil war.
“Free Soil, Free Men, and Frémont.”
Frémont later served as a major general in the American Civil War, including a controversial term as commander of the Army’s Department of the West from May to November 1861. Early in June 1862 Frémont pursued the Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson for eight days, finally engaging him at Battle of Cross Keys on June 8. Jackson slipped away after the battle, saving his army.
When the Army of Virginia was created June 26, to include Frémont’s corps, with John Pope in command, Frémont declined to serve on the grounds that he was senior to Pope and for personal reasons. He then went to New York where he remained throughout the war, expecting a command, but none was given to him