Kit Carson, was a legendary American frontiersman. He was a fur trapper, wilderness guide, Indian agent, and U.S. Army officer.
In the 1840s, Carson was hired as a guide by John C. Frémont, whose expeditions covered much of California, Oregon, and the Great Basin area. Frémont mapped and wrote reports and commentaries on the Oregon Trail to assist and encourage westward-bound pioneers, and Carson achieved national fame through those accounts. Under Frémont’s command, Carson participated in the conquest of California from Mexico at the beginning of the Mexican–American War. Later in the war, Carson was a scout and courier who was celebrated for his rescue mission after the Battle of San Pasqual and for his coast-to-coast journey from California to Washington, DC to deliver news of the conflict in California to the government.
He became a frontier legend in his own lifetime – that helped inspire millions into the wilderness across the Western U.S. — by biographies and news articles, and exaggerated versions of his exploits were the subject of dime novels. His understated, quiet nature belied confirmed reports of his fearlessness, combat skills, tenacity, and profound effect on the westward expansion of the United States. Although he was famous for much of his life, historians in later years have written that Kit Carson did not like, want, or even fully understand the celebrity that he experienced during his life.
During the late nineteenth century, Kit Carson became a legendary symbol of America’s frontier experience, which influenced twentieth century erection of statues and monuments, public events and celebrations, imagery by Hollywood, and the naming of geographical places.