Certificate of Election for John C. Frémont, December 22, 1849
When Congress admitted California to the Union in 1850, the state legislature chose Frémont as its first U.S. senator. He served only six months, losing reelection because of his opposition to slavery. During his brief tenure in Congress, he contributed his knowledge of the West to legislation on land grants, mines, and a transcontinental wagon road.
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
John C. Frémont
As an explorer, Army officer, and politician, John C. Frémont was a key figure in the nation’s westward growth. His expeditions charted previously little known territory for Congress and settlers migrating west. His father-in-law, the expansionist-minded Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, was instrumental in obtaining congressional funding for the expeditions and report that furnished Congress with facts for legislation on western territories. Frémont served as California’s first U.S. senator from 1850 to 1851. He ran unsuccessfully as the antislavery Republican Party’s first presidential candidate in 1856.