the next twelve years, Frémont led five expeditions into the West. On
the first, he surveyed the Platte "up to the head of the Sweetwater";
on the second, of fourteen months duration, he made a circuit of the
entire West, launching his India-rubber boat on the Great
Salt Lake on the outbound trip and examining Utah
Lake on the return. The third expedition took him across the Salt
Lake Desert and also involved him in the struggle to wrest California
from Mexico and eventually in a court-martial trial which ended his
government-sponsored explorations. The fourth, a winter expedition designed
to ascertain the feasibility of a central railroad route, became stranded
in the snows of the rugged San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The fifth
and final expedition, which also had a railroad objective, was saved
from disaster by the Mormons of Parowan.
a time, Frémont made his home in California, but he was unable to exploit
successfully the rich gold-bearing veins on his large estate of Las
Mariposas. California became a state in 1850, and he served briefly
as one of its United States senators. In 1856 he was the Republican
Party's first candidate for president, but lost to Democrat James Buchanan.
Early in the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave him command of
the Union Army's Western Department, only to remove him one hundred
days later when Frémont foolishly ordered property held by Missouri
rebels confiscated and their slaves freed.