Today we feature a portrait of John C. Fremont. Fremont was an interesting character in American History. He was an explorer, abolitionist, Radical Republican presidential candidate and Civil War General. he is often remembered as "The Great Pathfinder". On this day in 1847 he was appointed the first governor of the California Territory.
With the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined on the side of the North. As commander of the Army's department of the West, he issued a bold proclamation freeing the slaves in Missouri. The proclamation was issued on August 31, 1861, and read:
"All persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within these lines shall be tried by court-martial, and, if found guilty, will be shot. The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri who shall take up arms against the United States, and who shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use; and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free."
Interestingly, this proclamation really upset President Lincoln, who directly ordered Fremont to rescind the proclamation. It was not until several years later that Lincoln issued his own Emancipation Proclamation.