Desperate Passage: The Donner Party's Perilous Journey West

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A simple journey to the California coast in order to make a better living is what the Donner Party believed lie ahead of them. Ethan Rarick, the lead author of the marvelous and suspenseful book, Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West, describes in great detail what these families endured and encountered on their travels west. Heavy snowfall, little food, and lost time are just some of the interesting and intriguing items that Rarick talks about in his work of literature. Desperate Passage tells the story of the Donner Party, which was a group of American families who wanted to travel to the West Coast in order to live a more lavish and comfortable life. The families came together to form what was called a wagon train in May 1846. Another reason for the Americans movement westward, was the belief in manifest destiny. Manifest destiny was the belief of the United States expanding towards the California coast. It was also because the views on religious freedom, were nowhere near as strict as they wear on the East…show more content…
With them came their three children, Martha or “Patty”, James Jr., Thomas, and Virginia. Margaret Reed’s mother also accompanied the family on the perilous journey west. In total, the family had hired five employees who were Eliza Williams, and her half-brother Baylis, Milford or “Milt” Elliott, Walter Herron, James Smith, and last, Hiram Miller. The Reed family was known for incredible wealth, and it showed during their travels. The family was also known for possessing a “Pioneer Palace Car” which was highly respected, and was a display of great wealth at the time. James Reed is said to be the party’s leader, although he annoyed and agitated the members quite often. The Reed family traveled from Illinois. Margaret’s mother was unable to make it to California, however, the rest of the Reed’s managed to survive long enough to complete their
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