This is the story of the struggle of the claims before California was made part of the Union. The story is linked with the crucial period just before and during the Civil War, and many well-known national figures appear in connection with the struggle -- Webster, Lincoln, Jackson etc. But this is not a story of politics, but of personalities primarily. There is Senator Thomas Hart Benton, who stirred Washington to interest in California; there were the brilliant, daring exploits of Fremont, which brought success for the nation and disgrace for himself; there are Fremont's wife and daughter, who played so vital a part in his career. The story gives an introductory historical background, and carries through the great debate as to the admission of California as a state, and the part it played in the Civil War. The style is vigorous, lively, colorful, almost fictional, and the people come alive.