John C. Frémont Was Found Guilty Of Mutiny
What happens when two governors are appointed
for one territory? In Major John C. Frémont's case, he was given
Major John C. Frémont, admired for his
map-making expeditions to the West, was court-martialed on the
grounds of mutiny and disobeying orders on January 31, 1848.
Frémont was appointed governor of California in 1847 in
recognition of his role in the Mexican war (1846-1848).
California had recently been ceded to the United States by
Mexico following that war.
General Stephen Kearny,
however, was sent by the federal government to govern the state.
Tension arose between Kearny and Frémont over who had governing
authority. In August 1847, Kearny ordered Frémont arrested and
charged with insubordination. Frémont was found guilty by a
court-martial and subjected to penalties, including removal from
the army. Although this decision was reversed by President James
K. Polk, Frémont chose to resign his military commission.
In spite of this episode, Frémont remained popular with the
American public. He and his wife, Jesse Benton Frémont, stayed
in California. During the gold rush, Frémont became a
multimillionaire. In 1850 he was elected as one of California's
Frémont had established a reputation as
an outspoken abolitionist, speaking out against slavery. The
Republican Party nominated Frémont as its first presidential
candidate in 1856 and wanted him to run again in 1864. He
campaigned as the "Pathfinder" who would lead the country out of
the shame of slavery. Although he never became president,
Frémont did not give up his efforts to free the slaves.