Friday, February 4, 2011

Fremont's Map of California from 1848

Captain John Charles Frémont (1813-1890)
Charles Preuss, cartographer
Map of Oregon and Upper California from the Surveys of Charles Fremont And other Authorities
Baltimore: E. Weber and Co., 1848
Lithograph with outline color
44 ½" x 37 ½" framed

Detail of area of Northern California including the San Francisco Bay area, the Sierras and Lake Tahoe, and the Gold Mining region

This attractive large-scale map of California and Oregon, which shows the results of Captain Frémont’s difficult third expedition, became a model for many later gold region maps, and was by far the most accurate map of the far west at its time of publication. Depicted are some timely updates from 1848, such as the official establishment of the Oregon Territory, and the clearly delineated boundary with Mexico as stated in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

John C. Frémont was born in Savannah, Georgia on January 21, 1813. He briefly taught mathematics to U.S. naval cadets before launching his legendary career as an American explorer. As an assistant surveyor in 1838, Frémont joined the U.S. Topographical Corps and helped map the country between the upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Two years later, Frémont eloped with Jessie Benton, daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the driving force behind the “Manifest Destiny” movement. After accepting the secret marriage, Senator Benton helped his son-in-law secure command in 1841 of an expedition to survey the Des Moines River in present-day Iowa.

Between 1842 and 1844, Frémont led two expeditions to the Rocky Mountains and to the Nevada, California, and Oregon territories with the help of legendary fur trapper and master guide Kit Carson. Frémont’s journals provide incredible, vivid details of these expeditions. During his expeditions in the Sierra Nevada, it is generally acknowledged that Frémont became the first European American to view Lake Tahoe. His reports generated great interest in the West and western settlement.

Frémont met with some difficulty on his third expedition west in 1845-1846. At this time, California was held by Mexico, and war between the United States and Mexico was imminent - but had not yet been declared. En route to Oregon, Frémont heard of the approaching war with Mexico, and joined the Bear Flag Rebellion against Mexico under the command of Robert F. Stockton. As a result of his actions in the rebellion, Frémont was court-martialed and resigned from the army. Frémont later led a fourth expedition to the west in 1848, and was one of the first senators from California (1850-51). He later was the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856, losing to James Buchanan (and not carrying the state of California), fought in the Civil War, and was the governor of the Arizona Territory.

For more information about this historically important map, please contact Arader Galleries at 415.788.5115.

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