TRAGEDY IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE:
AMAZING SLICE OF AMERICANA:
Unbelievable if fiction,
but actual historical events.
Ordinary people battered by an incredible succession of incidents and
What normal human beings endured, perpetrated and achieved under inconceivable
An adventure that strikes profound emotional chords of ordinary people.
STAGE HAD BEEN SET BEFORE 1846:
War with Mexico over Texas was impending.
Mexico's hold on California was uncertain.
The US and England still had to settle their joint claim over Oregon Territory.
England must not snatch California from Mexico's weakening grasp.
England must not be allowed to take California and Oregon if the US goes
to war with Mexico.
President Polk wanted California and Oregon for the US--to fulfill the
US Manifest Destiny--to subdue and possess the continent west to the Pacific
The "Far West" had been publicized to
encourage emigration as a means of attaining Manifest Destiny.
Fremont had published reports about his adventurous explorations of the
Hastings published his Emigrant's Guide, detailing a shorter way
via his new cutoff.
With many US citizens there, California and Oregon could be taken from
Mexico and England.
WAS A PIVOTAL YEAR IN ATTAINING THAT MANIFEST DESTINY:
Over 2,000 Americans emigrated to the Far
West in 1846.
The Donner-Reed Party totaled over four percent of those emigrants.
Several factors motivated the emigrants in 1846: the Manifest Destiny
dream; publicity about the richest, most beautiful and healthiest land
in the world; flight from hard economic times and cholera outbreaks
in the Mississippi Valley.
In June, before hearing news of the war with Mexico, Fremont's men initiated
the Bear Flag Revolt, captured a Mexican General and constructed the
flag of the California Republic (still the State flag).
Days later, news of the war with Mexico arrived.
US Naval officers quickly took possession of and raised the Stars and
Stripes over Monterey, San Francisco, Sonoma and Sutter's Fort.
When Jim Reed arrived at Sutter's Fort, Fremont had taken all able-bodied
men and headed south toward Monterey to fight the war.
Jim Reed soon was coerced into fighting for the US in the "Battle
of Santa Clara."
Surrenders of Mexican-Californians in January, 1847 essentially ended
the California part of the war.
DESTINY WAS ASSURED
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