The Westward Expansion to Cannibalism

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In the hopes of traveling a straight ride to California is mislead by 81 inexperienced Donner Party emigrants. One of the many misunderstood tragic stories of all time. The need to travel and make shortcuts in life that only take us one step forward and two steps back. This only proves that the human mind can be very dangerous because, it is known to be the most horrible and misleading factors of an average human. The need to take the shortest route that led to a downfall, death and cannibalism, this is the Donner Party.

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The most dramatic increase in pioneers that the United States experienced was in the year 1845. Pioneers were people who left their homes in the east just to travel west to California and the Oregon territories, this was known as the Westward Expansion. They used a trail that followed rivers by mountains in Wyoming, this was best for the wagons to move on. On the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri, most to all wagons used to the Continental Divide. This trip usually took around four to six months, just by traveling 15 miles a day. In 1846, two men crossed the Great Salt Lake Desert, both of them crossed without the assist from the wagons. During the time of the increased rates of the westward journey’s, a man named Patrick Breen thought of California as a place to be free and express their catholic culture, but most of the Party members were really only inspired because of the Manifest Destiney. The Manifest Destiney was an 1845 philosophy that drove the 19th century U.S. territorial expansion. The Manifest Destiny also held that the United States was destinedby God, to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent.

Headed west from independence, were about 500 wagons that left in the spring of 1845. Toward the rear of the train, a group wagons that had 32 emigrants of the Reed and Donner families, and even their employees left Illinois May the 12th. George Donner, the main leader of the Donner Party, was born in North Carolina, overtime he moved west from Kentucky to Indiana and then to Illinois. The same year as the start of the Donner Party, George was already 60 years of age and lived in Springfield, Illinois. With him was his five daughters; Frances, Georgia, Eliza, Elitha and Leanna, along with his 44-year-old wife Tamsen. George also had his brother Jacob, his wife Elizabeth, two stepsons, and five children join him. Hiram O. and his family also tagged along on with the Donner family. Milford Elliot, James Smith and Walter Herron were all three hired by the Reed family to drive the oxen.

In April of 1846, Lansford Hasting decided to try a new path for the thousands of emigrants to follow. This is called the Hastings Cutoff, a new and fast route to travel to California, this is the route the Donner Party soon traveled. None of the emigrants traveling to California knew that Hastings had never even traveled this new route himself. The emigrants took his advice not knowing that Hastings little shortcut would just add to their trip instead of shortening it, but they figure this out the hard way when they get snowed in on the Sierras.

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The Westward Expansion to Cannibalism. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved February 2, 2023 , from

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