During his remarkable life, John Charles Fremont served as a senator for the newly-formed state of California, led Union troops in the Civil War, and was governor of the territory of Arizona. His race for the presidency in 1856 brought prestige to the fledgling Republican Party, yet despite his popularity, his uncompromising determination to abolish slavery cost him the election. For all of his experiences in politics and the military, it was the earlier decades of Fremont's life that were the most exciting. Shortly after graduating from college, he joined a mapping expedition and surveyed the hills of South Carolina and Tennessee for the government. Eager to continue exploring, Fremont went on five more expeditions to America west of the Appalachians during the years from 1839 to 1846. He traveled up the Missouri river, crossed the Rocky Mountains, and reached the West Coast on several journeys, often with his friend Kit Carson, the legendary mountain man. In Memoirs of My Life, Fremont recounts those years in the wilderness, encountering the fabulous landscapes and native people of America's interior before the westward expansion of the U. S. His journeys across the unmapped prairies, mountains, and deserts offer a wonderful glimpse of North America's natural grandeur in its original state.