Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BRYANT, Edwin, pioneer, born in Massachusetts in 1805; died in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1869. Before 1846 he was for some time a journalist in Kentucky. In the summer of that year, chiefly with a view to traveling, he acted as leader of a party of emigrants from Missouri to California. While various parties had gone overland to California since 1841, the large numbers and the critical circumstances of this emigration gave it much historical importance. The conquest of California by Free-mont, Sloat, and Stockton passed through its early stages while the emigrants of 1846 were on the way. They arrived, therefore, to find the supposed Mexican territory, which they had gone to seek, already a province of their own country. But they were just in time to give much-needed aid in suppressing the disturbances of the winter of 1846-'7; and, by virtue of their numbers and energy, they took thenceforth an important part in all the pioneer life of California. The emigration of 1846 deserved, therefore, a chronicler, and Bryant did this service, describing the overland journey, the explorations undertaken by the way, the conditions just succeeding the conquest, as observed on his arrival, the life of the California battalion under Freemont during the suppression of the revolt of the winter of 1846-'7, and his own experiences as alcalde in the San Francisco district. He added a general summary of such portions of the conquest history as he had not personally witnessed, and gave a good geographical sketch of the country. His book was published under the title " What I Saw in California" (New York, 1848). Bryant, after serving as alcalde, returned east with General Kearny, was witness at the Freemont court-martial, and, after 1849, attracted by the gold excitement, once more lived for a time in California, being prominent as a politician. His later life was passed in Kentucky.
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