Nativism and white supremacy, the battle over slavery, and the public adoration of explorers were critical elements of mid-19th century. Two of the key players from that era, Jessie and John Fremont, were also America’s first big celebrities.
But their star power didn’t last and modern accounts don’t seriously credit them with lasting or meaningful influence. NPR’s Steve Inskeep, though, might beg to differ on that last point. In fact, in his newest book, Imperfect Union, he makes a case for why and how Jessie and John Fremont, as his subtitle states, mapped the west, invented celebrity, and helped cause the civil war.
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Philip Gerard, Professor of Creative Writing, University of North Carolina Wilmington; Author, The Last Battleground: The Civil War Comes to North Carolina