THE PACIFIC COAST IN 1845 -- SPEECHES OF SENATOR BENTON AND REPORT OF CAPT. FRÉMONT -- MY FATHER AND HIS FAMILY -- INTEREST AWAKENED IN THE NEW TERRITORY -- FORMATION OF THE FIRST EMIGRANT PARTY FROM ILLINOIS TO CALIFORNIA -- PREPARATIONS FOR THE JOURNEY -- THE START -- ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF CIVILIZATION.
PRIOR to the year 1845, that great domain lying west of the Rocky Mountains and extending to the Pacific Ocean was practically unknown. About that time, however, the spirit of inquiry was awakening. The powerful voice of Senator Thomas H. Benton was heard, both in public address and in the halls of Congress, calling attention to Oregon and California. Captain John C. Frémont's famous topographical report and maps had been accepted by Congress, and ten thousand copies ordered to be printed and distributed to the people throughout the United States. The commercial world was not slow to appreciate the