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The Donner Party Essay, Research Paper

Donner Party Persuasive Essay

The thought of leaving one’s home is a scary one to say the least. Picking up everything and traveling to a new and challenging place is not an idea that many accept as a fun thing to do. But everyday people are moved across the country, or even across the world to a new place. Such things happen to employees of big companies such as IBM or Kraft who move their employees to a new location that creates a more effective business. In many cases these people despise being moved do to their fear of losing friends or opportunities, but often there is almost a sense of adventure involved. Seeing new places meeting new people and finding a new place to live. There is a constant struggle in the American character to constantly renew one’s lifestyle. Change is a constant thing in our society and along with it comes an exciting undertaking. As people travel in this sense there is much fear involved. One tends to feel exposed as the travel abroad and meet new people. Such blind faith and credulity can often lead to disaster. In the 1840’s the Donner party made a trip to California with dreams of a new life and wealth. The members of the Donner party thought nothing of the dangers that might face them during their journey. Such ignorance, one-upmanship and desire for success is paralleled to today’s society. The Donner Party’s adventure is, in fact, a microcosm of the American Character.

The Donner Party showed an American characteristic of ignorance in their journey to the west in many ways. The showed their ignorance first by choosing an uncharted route

suggested by a stranger apparently didn’t know what he was talking about. This “Hastings’” route presented a false shortcut through the Sierra Nevada. Also they showed their ignorance by not paying attention to a highly experience mountain man who warned the party of highly rough terrain. ahead. By ignoring both their own intuitions and the advice of an expert, they showed that their hunger for completion lead to an ignorance that prevented them from making any educated decisions. This lack of attention to vital information is what eventually lead to the missions partial failure. In America today we often show our ignorance, especially when it comes to getting what we want. People make poor decisions and ignore other’s advice when we let our desire for money or power overwhelm our ability to be competent beings.

One-upmanship is not a word we hear everyday, let alone as a description of a people. But it is the perfect description of the American character. One-upmanship was what drove the Donner Party on their mission even when it seemed hopeless. James Reed’s goal on the trip was to make it to their destination in the fastest possible time. They had to get to California before anyone else in order to get an advantage over all the other people who intended to make a new life in the new frontier. This desire to be faster and richer was what lead the Donner’s to their demise. By taking shortcuts and trying to get to their destination the fastest, half the party was killed after getting stuck in their so-called shortcut. This is very much a characteristic of any American today. The desire to be better than the rest is what drives many Americans to go to work everyday and make a living. How often have you felt better about yourself when you do a better job and yield greater gains than someone else who didn’t try quite so hard. The

desire to feel superior is what drove the Donner’s and very often drives American’s today. Our economy would not be nearly as successful if America wasn’t on top of the world and yielding more profit than the rest of the world.

One good characteristic of the American Character that the Donners portrayed was the desire to succeed. Every child in America grows up with the dream of being wealthy or happy as an adult. The desire to succeed is not an uncommon want of the typical American. The whole reason that the Donners left their homes at all in the first place was their fantasy of wealth and power in their new homes. As Americans we are always looking to be successful. America is one of the hardest working countries on Earth. And we work this hard so that we may live a more successful life and may be more comfortable in our lifestyles.

In conclusion, the Donner Expedition is very much a microcosm of the American character. The Donners showed ignorance, one-upmanship, and desire for success in their journey. All of which are characteristics of the typical American


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