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88 fter being relieved of the western command and returning with his family to their home in New York City, Frémont sulked at the turn of events. As for Jessie, her anger was deep, but she channeled her disappointment and frustration into writing a book about the Missouri troops called The Story of the Guard: A Chronicle of the War. All profits from this popular account went to charity. Frémont’s brooding soon ended, because the radical wing of the president’s party believed in him and in his antislavery stance. The Radicals exerted pressure on Lincoln, and Frémont was chosen in March 1862 to lead the newly formed Mountain Department, which included parts of Kentucky, Tennessee , and Virginia. The headquarters were located in Wheeling , West Virginia. Jessie and the children went with Frémont to his new assignment , but they remained there only a month before returning to New York. Frémont’s stay was not much longer, because his experience with this assignment was as distressful as his time in Missouri. Shortly after Frémont assumed control of the Mountain Department, Lincoln and the War Department reorganized the structure of the military command to meet wartime needs. Frémont was not happy—he did not like his new superior officer , John Pope, with whom he had had disagreements when they both were in Missouri. Protesting the changes, he resigned his position in June 1862, having served less than four months, a little longer than he had served in Missouri. Once more Frémont was a military officer without a command during a tumultuous CHAPTER 9 The Frémonts ~ The Later Years m A time in American history. He returned to his family in New York. All the hopes, all the dreams, all the aspirations that Jessie had for her husband, all the plans for a distinguished career and life modeled after that of her father, were now gone. Once more Frémont brooded and Jessie became bitter, believing that he had not been given a fair chance at proving himself as a military leader in time of war. She blamed Lincoln, his advisors, and her former friends for engaging in political intrigue, backstabbing, and betrayal. Never once did she seem to consider that her husband might have some responsibility for his predicament. She needed the skills and reputation of her father to smooth over the rough spots for Frémont—Senator Benton would have done that for his son-in-law, as he had in the past, but he was gone. Jessie could not do it by herself; she had neither the proper connections nor the political skill. She had used up any goodwill she might have had when she confronted President Lincoln in a situation that ended in a debacle. Resentment would soon give way to other concerns, however. While in the military, Frémont paid little or no attention to his personal business affairs, and his failure to do so was costly. The mines at Mariposa had always been difficult to run at a consistent profit, and Frémont was not a good businessman—he was constantly trying to find wealthy interests to back him. In June 1863 he was finally forced to sell his California mining interests. Jessie was relieved that all of the problems relating to the mines were finally settled, and she busied herself with friends and charities. The Civil War left the Frémonts disappointed, disillusioned, and distraught. They moved to upstate New York, to a home overlooking the Hudson River that they called Pocaho. Jessie was content to be out of the public eye; she wanted nothing more to do with political or military affairs. Retirement would be a welcome refuge, but there was one more battle to fight before such a respite could begin. The Frémonts, particularly John but with Jessie by his side, would confront their old nemesis Abraham Lincoln one more time. In 1864, abolitionist factions attempted to mount a challenge 89 / THE FRÉMONTS ~ THE LATER YEARS 90 / JESSIE BENTON FRÉMONT 90 / JESSIE BENTON FRÉMONT 90 / JESSIE BENTON FRÉMONT In May 1868, Jessie and her husband, along with 40,000 people, dedicated this bronze statue in honor of Sen. Thomas Hart Benton in Lafayette Park, St. Louis. In the figure ’s right hand is a rolled-up map representing Benton’s lifelong commitment to westward expansion and American development. Many Missouri notables participated in the event, including an old political...


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