Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative
Image: 9 × 6 cm (3 9/16 × 2 3/8")
Sheet: 13.6 × 12.3 cm (5 3/8 × 4 13/16")
Mat: 35.6 × 28 cm (14 × 11")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection
Jessie Benton Frémont spent her life in the public eye-as the daughter of powerful Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, as the wife of noted explorer John C. Frémont, and as a popular author in her own right. Married to Frémont at the age of seventeen, Jessie secured for him her father's backing for a series of government-sponsored expeditions to open up the far western regions of the country to migration and settlement. When Frémont returned from the first of these expeditions in 1842, Jessie collaborated with him in writing the vivid report of his findings that first brought him national recognition. Many years later, when financial difficulties brought the couple close to bankruptcy, Jessie employed her literary skills to support her husband and family by writing lively reminiscences, stories, and travel sketches for a number of popular periodicals.