John C. Fremont, the first Republican presidential candidate

Discussion in 'History & Past Politicians' started by JohnHamilton, Mar 7, 2024.

  1. JohnHamilton

    JohnHamilton Well-Known Member

    Oct 17, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    The Republican Party was founded in 1854. It grew out of the ashes of the Whig Party which was torn apart by the slavery issue. The "cotton Whigs" supported slavery while the "conscience Whigs” opposed it or were at least having doubts.

    The Republicans held their national convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June of 1856. There they nominated John C. Fremont as their first presidential candidate and former New Jersey senator, William Dayton, for vice president. Although Fremont had been one of California’s first two senators, Fremont had built his reputation as an explorer and was known as “the Pathfinder.” Daring, resourceful and brave, Fremont had explored the Oregon Trail in 1842, crossed the Sierra Nevadas to the Sacramento Valley in 1843-4 (and almost died in the process) and had returned to California to take part in the Mexican War in 1845.

    There he displayed two of his many faults that would plague him later in life: a propensity to ignore direct orders from his superiors and an inability to understand the political subtleties of certain situations. In defiance of his commanding officer, Fremont sided with the supporters of the “Bear Flag Republic” who were calling for California to declare its independence from Mexico. After he was court-martialed and convicted, Fremont was sent back East in chains, but President Polk commuted his sentence. He returned to California almost penniless, but then struck gold on some land that he had previously considered worthless. Thus rising from the ashes, Fremont became one of the state’s leading citizens.

    Fremont was politically well connected through marriage. His wife, Jessie, was the daughter of the powerful Missouri senator, Thomas Hart Benton; and Fremont would use her name in the campaign. Yet his father-in-law refused to indorse the sometimes volatile man who had married his daughter. Senator Benton threw his support to James Buchanan.

    This very attractive medal celebrated Fremont's career as an explorer.

    JF 1856-2 All.jpg

    This one referred to Fremont's wife, Jessie. This marks the first time that a potential First Lady was mentioned on a political piece.

    JF 1856-12 All.jpg

    Here is the piece by Frederick Smith who noted for issuing pieces that covered the major issues. It lightly mentions that fact that Fremont was an abolitionist.

    JF 1856-4 All.jpg

    Fremont and the Republicans did well for a party that had only been in existence for two years and was running its first presidential candidate. The Electoral College vote was 174 for James Buchanan and 114 for Fremont. Know Nothing candidate, Millard Fillmore received 8 votes from Maryland.

    Even though James Buchanan has been rated as the worst president in U.S. history, the country benefited from the fact that he won. If Fremont had been elected, the Civil War would have started four years earlier with him in charge.

    Fremont proved to be a poor politician who had less than perfect judgement. Under his leadership, the Civil War might well have been lost. Fortunately the country elected Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Share This Page