Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War

Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War

Steve Inskeep tells the riveting story of John and Jessie Frémont, the husband and wife team who in the 1800s were instrumental in the westward expansion of the United States, and thus became America's first great political couple

In 1813, John Frémont was born a nobody. His mother conceived him out of wedlock, and at age 13, in Charleston, South Carolina, he was sent to work to support her and his siblings. But, via the assistance of series of mentors, he rose from obscurity, making his way to Washington, before joining the upper echelons of society by marrying the daughter of an influential senator, Thomas Hart Benton, who only reluctantly blessed their union. Jessie Benton Frémont, as she came to be known, had grown up in the mold of her father, knowing personally then President Andrew Jackson, but her ambition was frustrated. She had limited options for own career advancement, at a time when women could not yet vote let alone hold public office. But she threw herself passionately into the promotion of her husband who rose to become one of the most famous men of the era. John travelled thousands of miles on horseback, at times with an almost willful indifference to his safety and that of the other members of his expeditions, many of whom would perish, in an effort to map the uncharted American West. The notes and letters he would send home Jessie skillfully shaped into dramatic reports and bestselling books. She became his political adviser, and was gradually recognized as a political force in her own right. Thus she helped lift John to a seat in the Senate, and ultimately to propel him, in 1856, to become the first-ever presidential nominee of the newly established Republican party.

With rare detail and in consummate style, Inskeep tells this story of a couple whose joint ambitions and talents seemed somehow intertwined with those of the nascent United States itself. The Frémonts came to be influential to not one but three great social movements of the times--westward settlement, women's rights and opposition to slavery. Their adventures amount to nothing less than a tour of the early American soul.

Title:Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War
ISBN:9780735224353
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    Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Frémont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War Reviews

  • Moonkiszt

    I enjoyed listening to this book. . .and must admit that it felt very contemporary. This may be because the author was the narrator, and so felt in places rather NPRish. All the fighting and biting an...

  • Jeanette

    It does put you into the wide open feeling of the period. And how intrepid individuals, despite having all kinds of negatives/ faults etc. could truly roam. Both of this Fremont couple were interestin...

  • Bob Mayer

    I'd heard the name Fremont, of course, but knew little about him until I started researching the history of the west, around the time of the Mexican War, the bloodiest war, percentage-war, we've ever ...

  • Barbara

    Today while listening to NPR, I heard Steve Inskeep tell the riveting, sometimes humorous story of this book. It makes me shudder to think how closely today's political climate resembles much of what ...

  • Joseph

    A graceful biography of the 1856 presidential candidate and famed explorer, this book connects on all the right levels. We learn almost as much about Mrs. Fremont as we do about John Charles. The narr...

  • Angie Boyter

    A perfect union of biography and historyImperfect Union is the story of John and Jessie Fremont, a couple who had a significant impact in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. It is also th...

  • Gary Moreau

    The mid-19th Century American push westward was one of the defining moments of American history. Not only did it provide room for expansion for a growing nation, it created the possibility of a land b...

  • Sean

    I wanted to like this, but the author makes it hard. The writing is pretty flat and uninspired, and full of historical guesses of the "such an event would have interested the Fremonts, who may well ha...

  • Robert Melnyk

    Fascinating book about the lives of John and Jesse Frémont. I'd read some books about Frémont before, and this one put a slightly different perspective on his life and his legacy. While he was defin...

  • Kevin Jones

    A fascinating account of a controversial and thrilling figure. I also appreciated the multi-faceted view of this volatile time in U.S. history....