FRÉMONT, JOHN C.

Frémont Builds a Controversial Railroad Across Costa Rica!

$1,200

Item #11781


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FRÉMONT, JOHN C. - Frémont Builds a Controversial Railroad Across Costa Rica!
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FRÉMONT, JOHN C. - Frémont Builds a Controversial Railroad Across Costa Rica!

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FRÉMONT, JOHN C. (1813-1890). American officer, explorer and politician; A Union Major general in the Civil War, in 1856 Fremont ran unsuccessfully against James Buchanan as the first Republican candidate for president of the United States. ALS. (“J.C. Fremont”). 2pp. 8vo. New York, March 26, 1867. To Boston Geologist Thomas S. Ridgway.

 

“Yours of the 26th Feb. was duly received, but I deferred replying immediately, because I wished to write more definitely to you than I yet can. I would be glad to have the benefit of your skill & knowledge in getting acquainted with the character of Costa Rica and in setting it out for public information, but we are not yet quite prepared to do so. We are just now making a contract for re-survey and construction of the first twenty five miles of the roadbed from Limon on the Atlantic to the foot of the mountains. I take it for granted that there is not much in this part of the line that would be interesting from your point of view and although there are no swamps, that portion is still not so healthy as the remainder of the line which is in broken & hilly country. For both these reasons I propose to wait until our arrangements are made for a survey of the line to the Pacific. I will then communicate with you…”

 

During the 1830s and ‘40s Frémont led expeditions to survey and explore territories between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the Oregon Trail and the Sierra Nevada. He was instrumental in wresting California from Mexican control and was appointed the territory’s first governor in 1847. However, the following year, Frémont was court-martialed for mutiny after failing to obey his superior officer’s orders during the Mexican-American War. In 1850, he was elected to a less than one year term as United States Senator from the newly admitted state of California, and six years later the recently-formed Republican Party chose him as its first presidential candidate. He received 1.3 million popular votes to Buchanan’s 1.8 million. At the outbreak of the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed Frémont a major general and assigned him the command of the poorly defined Department of the West, headquartered in St. Louis.

 

After the Civil War, “Frémont entered so many railroad schemes that it is difficult to keep them straight,” (John Charles Fremont: Character as Destiny, Rolle). In addition to a failed railroad endeavor in Missouri which ended when the state seized the railway for nonpayment of debts, “foreign financial dalliances also continued to tempt Frémont. Undiscovered by biographers are his attempts during 1866 to build a Costa Rican railroad as well as another line across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico. The Costa Rican road was to run from Puerto Limón on the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific… His complex Costa Rican and Mexican projects were intertwined and required constant searching for enormous sums of money… Frémont thought he could obtain Prussian financing. But Costa Rican Minister Esquivel Gutiérrez developed doubts about boasts that Frémont could subsidize any of his speculative ventures. The imposing Riggs National Bank labeled Frémont a ‘poor and visionary speculator with not very strict moral principles.’ Other bad publicity about his projects appeared in the New York Herald, ending hopes for a Costa Rican project,” (ibid.).

 

Ridgway was a geologist and mining engineer from Cambridge, Massachusetts who served under Fremont during his military campaign in Western Virginia and who conducted numerous surveys of natural resources located along proposed railroad routes.

 

Folded into thirds with one very minor fold tear. Normal wear and in very good condition. Last sold by Charles Hamilton at auction in 1978.

 

 

Item #11781

$1,200


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