Sea to Shining Sea

One of the most unusual American flags was that of explorer and first Republican Party candidate for President, John C. Fremont.  

Fremont led several expeditions into the American West, some into areas claimed by Mexico. His wife Jessie created a unique banner for his exploration.  The Stars and Stripes design is clearly represented, with 26 stars waving, but there is an eagle holding arrows and a peace pipe. (A peace pipe was a good symbol of “no harm intended” to Native Americans that would be encountered.).

One of the places he took his flag was Snow Peak mountain in the Rockies. He wrote that he “unfurled the national flag to wave in the breeze where never a flag had waved before.” The original flag still exists today

Fremont is remembered for his planting of the American flag on the Rocky Mountains during his first expedition, symbolically claiming the West for the United States. For his botanical records and information collected on his explorations, several plants bear his name in his honor.  Pathfinder Regional Park in Colorado displays a large sculpture of Fremont

Fremont’s wild side of his character came out during his third expedition. He was involved in actions that supported the rebellion against Mexico that lead to the California Republic and later statehood. He organized the first California volunteer militia, was one of its first Senators, and was a Major General in the Civil War. His reports about and actions in the American West were of major historical importance. We cannot overstate his influence on opening the West to settlement and American expansion to the Pacific.

In his memoirs, Fremont coined the phrase “Golden Gate” for the strait between Marin County and San Francisco County.


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