Fremont, California is once again shorthand for pioneering—as the factory headquarters of the Tesla, the pathbreaking electric car.
Sometimes, geography is destiny: Mastercard, fittingly, is headquartered in Purchase, New York. John C. Frémont, the man after whom Tesla’s hometown of 233,000 was named in 1956, was America’s Pathfinder. As a pioneer, he helped popularize the settling of the West. As a soldier, he helped expand America. And as a politician, he helped hew the path for America to become the land of the free.
But Tesla stockholders beware: Frémont’s biography, like California’s history, was rocked by earthquakes. The army arrested and court-martialed him. Abraham Lincoln fired him. The Panic of 1873 bankrupted him.