The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party - Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Marian Calabro
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On April 15, 1846, a group of three families left Springfield, Illinois to travel twenty-five hundred miles to California. They would be known to history as the Donner Party. This included the families of George Donner, his brother Jacob Donner, and James Reed.

Around this time, the attraction of plentiful free land attracted many settlers to the West. Many Americans believed in a "manifest destiny", in which American culture was meant to spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean. At this time, California belonged to Mexico, but soon the United States would be warring with Mexico over its land. Settlers also did not care much that Native Americans lived on the land they intended to settle.

George Donner was the head of the party, a farmer of about sixty. Brother Jacob was a few years younger. With them came the family of James Reed, a wealthy...

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This section contains 372 words
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Buy The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party Study Guide
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