July 13: John Charles Frémont (1890)

John Charles Frémont was an American explorer, politician, and soldier. During the 1840’s Frémont led four expeditions into the American West. His growing taste for wilderness exploration was encouraged by the expansionist enthusiasm of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who became his adviser, sponsor, and, in 1841, father-in-law. Benton’s influence in government enabled Frémont to accomplish within the next few years the mapping of much of the territory between the Mississippi valley and the Pacific Ocean. The press accorded Frémont the nickname, “The Pathfinder.” He was the first presidential candidate of the newly formed anti-slavery Republican Party, but lost the election to James Buchanan. Abraham Lincoln would become the first successful candidate of the party.

In 1840 while in Washington preparing a report on one of his explorations, Lieutenant John C. Frémont met Senator Thomas Hart Benton’s 15-year old daughter, Jessie, while she was studying and living at Georgetown Seminary. The couple became engaged, but her parents objected to a marriage because of her age. Several years later, following his return from another exploring expedition, the couple eloped. In time, Jessie’s parents accepted the marriage and the Frémonts were soon living in the Benton’s Washington home. Jessie’s family was closely associated with Epiphany. Two of her sisters were married at the church and several nieces and nephews were baptized. Despite frequent moves in their early marriage, four of the five Frémont children were baptized at Epiphany, including namesake John Charles Frémont, Jr.

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