Jessie Benton Fremont: Missouri's Trailblazer (Missouri Heritage Readers Series)
By: Suzanna M. Grenz (author), Ilene Stone (author)Paperback
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When Senator Thomas Hart Benton, one of Missouri's first two senators, was expecting his second child in 1824, he hoped it would be a boy. Although he was graced instead with a girl, he named her Jessie and raised her more like a son than a nineteenth-century daughter. Senator Benton was the main influence in her life until 1841, when, at the age of seventeen, she married army explorer John Charles Fremont against her parents' wishes. Some degree of reconciliation occurred later, when Senator Benton promoted Fremont's famous explorations of the Great West. Jessie remained in Missouri with the couple's young daughter, Lily, during these explorations, but she later helped to write and edit reports of her husband's adventures, and these narratives spread the lure of the West to nineteenth-century America. In 1849, the Fremonts moved to California, and in 1850 Fremont followed in his father-in-law's footsteps to become one of California's first senators. In 1856, Fremont's anti-slavery position was instrumental in his being chosen as the Republican Party's first presidential nominee. Jessie served as a behind-the-scenes campaign manager for her husband's unsuccessful presidential bid. When Abraham Lincoln appointed Fremont as the commander of the Department of the West in 1861, Jessie served as his unofficial aide and closest adviser. After the Civil War, the Fremonts' financial situation took a down turn. Undaunted, Jessie supported the family by writing ""A Year of American Travel"" and ""Souvenirs of My Time"". Although Jessie lived her ambitions largely through her husband's career, she also made a name for herself as a writer and a firm opponent of slavery.
ILENE STONE is a former adjunct faculty member in American history at San Diego Community College. SUZANNA M. GRENZ is an independent scholar living in southern California.
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- ID: 9780826216281
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