After being kicked out of college for “incorrigible negligence,” John C. Fremont became a member of the U. S. Topographical Corp.  The result of a wise marriage to the daughter of an influential Senator, Fremont was appointed to head expeditions charting the best routes to Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada.  His reports on the expeditions became very popular with people interested in settling the west.

            At this time, California was a possession of Mexico.  But, the United States was very interested in acquiring it.  Although a member of the army, Fremont was not considered a combat soldier.  But, in 1845, President James Polk sent Fremont on an expedition with 60-armed men.  Although outwardly another exploration, President Polk, feeling war with Mexico was inevitable, wanted a military force nearby.

            When in May of 1846 war was declared with Mexico, Fremont immediately went into California.  With news of a U. S. military force in California, Anglo-Americans started rebelling against their Mexican leaders.  On January 16, 1847 Fremont, now in Los Angeles, was appointed the Governor of California.  Although appointed by his commander, there became a dispute within military ranks, and Fremont ended up being court martialed.  Even though he was pardoned by President Polk, Fremont resigned, and returned to California.

            Still with the taste of political power from his short stint as California’s governor, Fremont ran for senator in the newly recognized state.  Then in 1856 Fremont became the Republican Party’s first Presidential candidate.  In 1878, as a 65-year-old legend, he was appointed the territorial Governor of Arizona.

            John Fremont was a much better explorer and mapper than he was a politician, for his service as a politician was like his time in college, highlighted by “incorrigible negligence.” 


On January 2, 1834 Stephen Austin was imprisoned by the Mexican government.
Prior to this Austin did his best to satisfy the rebellious Anglo-Americans in Texas. And because of problems with the Mexican Republic, Austin was forces to constantly return to Mexico City where he argued for the rights of the American colonists in Texas.

Alarmed by the growing numbers of Americans migrating to Texas and rumors the U.S. intended to annex the region, the Mexican government began to limit immigration in 1830.
The Mexican policy angered many Anglo-American colonists who already had a long list of grievances against their distant government. In 1833, a group of colonial leaders drafted a constitution that would create a new Anglo-dominated Mexican state of Texas.

Once the constitution was done, the colonial leaders directed Austin to travel to Mexico City to present it to the government along with a list of other demands. Austin conceded to the will of the people, but President Santa Ana not only refused to grant Texas independence, he threw Austin in prison on suspicion of inciting insurrection.
When he was finally released eight months later in August 1835, Austin found that the Anglo-American colonists were on the brink of rebellion. They were now demanding a Republic of Texas that would break entirely from Mexico.

Reluctantly, Austin abandoned his hope that the Anglo Texans could somehow remain a part of Mexico, and he began to prepare for war. The following year Austin helped lead the Texan rebels to victory over the Mexicans and assisted in the creation of the independent Republic of Texas. Defeated by Sam Houston in a bid for the presidency of the new nation, Austin instead took the position of secretary of state. He died in office later that year.


It was on this date back in 1848 when James Marshall discovered gold at a sawmill he was constructing to provide lumber for building John Sutter’s town he called New Switzerland.

Although Sutter owned thousands of acres in the area, the mill was located on public land.  And at the time of the discovery California was in the process of changing from a possession of Mexico to the United States.  So, he had no way to get legal ownership of the land around the mill.

Neither Sutter nor Marshall were excited about the discovery of gold and tried to keep it a secrete.  Obviously the word got out.

It’s interesting that although Sutter and Marshall discovered the gold, they never profited from it and died broke.

The picture is of James Marshall at the saw mill.


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