Washington Expansionists and the Far West
AFTER a brief rest in St. Louis, Frémont hurried on to Washington with Jessie, for he was eager to make his report and lay plans for a third expedition. He found that his old circle in the capital had been largely destroyed by death. Nicollet and Hassler had died within a few weeks of each other in the autumn of 1843, the former, after a complete mental breakdown, having passed away alone at a Washington hotel. "After all," wrote Frémont feelingly,1"it would have been a fitter end for him to have died under the open sky, and been buried rolled up in a blanket, by the side of some stream in the mountains, than to have had life close in the night and alone at a hotel." Senator Benton's enthusiastic colleague, the lively, winning Lewis Linn, who came so naturally by his zeal for western development--his grandfather had been one of the first to navigate the Mississippi from Pittsburgh to New Orleans--had also died in the fall of 1843, a grievous loss to the expansionist group.2 Frémont reported upon reaching Washington to General Scott, and made an official call on the Secretary of War, Wilkins, who was astonished by his youth. Then he settled down to a short interlude of home life.
There ensued a happy period of social ease, domesticity, and congenial work. The young couple lived with the Bentons, whose house gave them ample room. The family dined sometimes alone, sometimes with guests of importance. The evening was spent about the fireplace, the Senator reading or writing, Mrs. Benton, whose health had much improved, though her____________________