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A long-time fur trader among the Native Americans of the central and southern plains, Charles Bent (1799–1847) was one of the founders of Bent's Fort, a fur-trading outpost on the Arkansas River near present-day La Junta, Colorado. During the U.S.-Mexican War, Bent was appointed the first civil governor of the New Mexico Territory.
Bent was born in Virginia in 1799. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Missouri, and he grew up in the St. Louis region. In 1822 he began working for the Missouri Fur Company, which traded primarily on the Upper Missouri River. By 1825 he had become a partner in this firm. He also served for a time as a Native American sub-agent for the U.S. government, working with the Iowa tribe.