The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party Themes

Marian Calabro
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The Two Villains of the Donner Party

Author Calabro places the blame for the Donner Party tragedy at the feet of two men: James Reed and Lansford Hastings, with Hastings taking the majority of the blame. Hastings is painted as a delusional, power-hungry man who wrote his "Emigrants' Guide" only to lure prospective loyal followers to California, where he dreamed of establishing an independent nation, with himself as emperor. And when the Donner Party caught up with Hastings on the trail, he refused to help them.

Furthermore, Hastings left a deceptive note at the threshold to the Great Salt Lake Desert, promising the Donner Party that the desert would take only two days to cross. It took a total of six days, and the time in the desert decimated the party's livestock and oxen, dealing the Donner Party a blow it could not recover from.

Hastings is not the...

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This section contains 866 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party Study Guide
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