The Donner Party Essay Research Paper The

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The Donner Party Essay, Research Paper The Donner Party It’s one of the greatest tragedies of all time, yet few of us know the whole story. The story is of the misled, inexperienced Donner Party. It is the story of eighty-one emigrants who traveled in hopes of reaching the land of California. Forty-seven, whose hopes were crushed by many contributing factors. The most horrible and misleading factor of all was the human mind and its persistent need to explore and conquer everything, whether within reach or not in the shortest and fastest way possible. This aspect of taking the shortest route that led to the downfall, and in some cases, to death, of the Donner Party. It was advertised as a new and shorter route west to California and saved pioneers 350 to 400. Unfortunately

some crucial things weren’t mentioned in this advertisement, one of which was the fact that the new route had never been traveled upon; and two, that the writer was a power hungry man whose only motive was to lure settlers into California under his direction so he could establish the area as an independent republic. This route was known as Hasting’s Cutoff and was mentioned in Lansford W. Hasting’s book, “The Emigrant’s Guide to California and Oregon.” Many pioneers eager to make their fortunes, escape disease, or to satisfy their hankering for a new experience read this book and, I might add, all as quickly as possible. Among the readers of the book was James Reed. James Frasier Reed was a business man who had made a small fortune in his Illinois practice. He had

logical reasons for moving to California. One, his wife, Margaret Reed, suffered from horrible headaches and it was assumed that she would fare better in a nicer climate and James Reed wanted more money. He felt that this could be accomplished in a land as rich as California. Reed also had four children: Virginia, Martha, James, and Thomas whom he wanted better lives for, and he believed this could be attained in California. When James Frasier Reed first read “the book” he was blown away by the idea of getting to California safely and quicker, he acted upon it and found others to travel with him. Among these other travelers were the Donners, the Graves, the Breens, the Murphys, the Eddys, the McCutcheons, the Kesebergs, and the Wolfingers. Thanks to an advertisement in the

Springfield, Illinois, Gazette, two Mexican boys, and a number of bachelors. On April 16, 1846, the emigrants that would soon be named the Donner Party, loaded their nine wagons and, departed from Springfield, Illinois. Their 2500 mile journey to San Francisco would take them approximately four months and they would cross three mountain ranges, deserts, plains, and rivers. Little did they know they would be the first ever to travel this route. The party’s first stop was Independence, Missouri, where they bought food and traded for any necessities. When they left Independence on May 12, 1846, they were amidst a violent thunderstorm. This storm soon ceased and they eventually reached the eastern bank of the Big Blue River where they attempted to build ferries that would transport

them and the wagons to the other side. During this a two-day process, the Donner Party experienced its first death. Margaret Reed’s mother, Sarah Keyes, who had been suffering from consumption, died at the river and was immediately buried there. On May 31, the last of the wagons was ferried over the river, and the Donner Party was on its way again. On June 16, the party was two hundred miles from Fort Laramie and had traveled, so far, without difficulty. Finally on June 27, one week behind schedule, they reached Fort Laramie where Reed ran into an old friend from Illinois, James Clyman, and quickly interrogated him about the new route. Clyman gave his honest opinion stating that the road was barely possible on foot and would be impossible with wagons. He advised Reed to take