The Donner Party

Nathan Shirley

Why Was Expanding More Important Than Their Lives

The Donner Party was a wealthy group of people from Springfield, that were apart of the immigration to the west. The were going west to begin to expand the United States, settle the west and get more land for their family to live on . The group was lied to and in the end that lie got half of their 87 person party killed in very unpleasant ways, just so that the United States could expand.


A man named Lansford Hastings created a book/magazine Called “The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California” (McLaughlin). In the book he told of a shortcut that would significantly shorten the trip to the west, It was called “Hastings Cutoff” (McLaughlin). Lansford had never taken the trail nor even seen it he just wanted people to get over to California quickly. When the Donner party first started the journey they were on the right pace and they were going to make it to California by the right time, but once they turned left onto the supposed short cut the started to lose ground every day. Later on in the trip they had encounters with Hastings, he himself would not even lead them through the trail because he did not know the trail. And he was having trouble getting through himself and that is when they finally figured out that the short cut was made up and they were in trouble, Hastings had lied to them. They could not make it through the rest of the trip so during the time before they were rescued many of them died due to cannibalism .


The Donner Party is in a way connected to what is happening in Syria with the refugees trying to flee to other countries. Lots of people are leaving their homes and going to other countries to try and have a better life, the is also just like when people in the east moved to California and the west fro a better life. The only differences are that the refugees are not and the Donner Party was not fleeing from violence. The refugees in Syria are trying to get away from their home country because of all the fighting that is going on in that area, it is so bad that they are taking trails that aren’t good for people to be taking like, going on rafts, and walking for very long distances in hot areas. "A two year old boy was found drowned on a beach in Turkey after a boat carry refugees capsized crossing the Mediterranean" (Migration). That shows you how they were taking bad routes. The route across the Mediterranean Sea, “In 2015 2,600 people died trying to cross the sea” (Migration). The Donner party and the Syrian refugees are the same because they are migrating to a different place for a certain reason and they are not taking the path that others would take, which means that they are taking the shorter but harder route.


The Donner Party went through so much trouble and sacrifice just to try to reach the western frontier in California. This shows that he cared about leading a country and expanding the U.S. over the lives of these people that were just trying to have better and fresh new lives, he just thought of them as basically stepping stones to gain control over California and rule it the way that he wanted to rule it.

Donner Party Picture Collage

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Westward Expansion Video

Westward Expansion: Crash Course US History #24

Works Cited

Course, Crash. “Westward Expansion: Crash Course US History #24.”Online video clip. Youtube.

Google. 8 August, 2013. Web. 18 March, 2016.

Cotovio,Vasco. “Shoot us or help us': 3 stories from refugee crisis you need to read.” CNN. Cable

News Network, 27 November, 2015. Web. 17 March, 2016.

Jenks, Daniel A. 1859 “Humboldt River Papa”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Humboldt_River_Papa_2.jpg

Library of Congress. 18 March, 2016.

<http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/26/europe/syrian-refugees-crisis-macedonia-sweden-turkey/>

Kmusser. 19 March, 2010 “Donner route map.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donner_route_map.png. 17 March, 2016

“Migration to Europe Death at sea.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited, 3

September, 2015. Web. 17 March, 2016.

<http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/09/migration-europe-0>

Moin3. 2010 “Map of Truckee Lake and Alder Creek.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_Truckee_Lake_and_Alder_Creek.svg. 18 March, 2016.

Lawrence/Houseworth. 1866 “Donner tree stumps

2.”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donner_tree_stumps2.jpg Library of Congress. 18 March 2016.


N.a.1862 “JamesMargretReed.” Ethan Rarick's book, Desperate Passages.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JamesMargaretReed.jpg .

17 March 2016.

N.a. 1880 “Truckee Lake camp.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Truckee_Lake_camp.jpg.

17 March, 2016.

Russell, Andrew J. 1868 “Donner Lake and snow sheds 2.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donner

_Lake_and_snow_sheds2.jpg. 17 March 2016