The Emigrant's Guide to Oregon and California

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Applewood Books, 1994 - History - 152 pages
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"A notorious bit of historical esoterica, this 1845 handbook for travelers heading westward from the civilized United States for the freedom of the wild, unsettled frontier is remembered today mainly for its small role in one of the most horrific stories of the American West: it suggested the untried "shortcut," now known as the Hastings Cutoff, through Utah that led the Donner Party to its dreadful end. Absent the book's footnote position in the history of the West, this would still be a remarkable document of mid-19th-century America and the machinations and politicking that went into the American expansion across the continent. Written and published by Ohio-born lawyer Lansford Warren Hastings (1819-1870), it sets out glowing, idyllic descriptions of the bountiful landscapes of California and Oregon, offering almost irresistible enticements to settlers looking to make a new start. Hastings' motives were less than noble, however: he hoped to establish an independent Republic of California... with himself as its ruler. He failed in his efforts, but the evidence of his ambition, in the form of this fascinating work, remains must reading for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of what drove the settling of the frontier"

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WOW! I have heard about this book from other historical readings, and finally got around to reading it. I am a Donner Party history buff, and I know that they used this book to plan their expedition. There are many warnings in this book that ended up biting the Donner Party in the behind (pun intended). To read about my California before it was really California is fascinating. The detailed descriptions of the people along the way, the provisions to take, and the layout of their destination must have been incredible to people back east. We take all of this for granted today, and can fly across in a few hours time. However, as 152 pages attest, this was the journey of a lifetime! Lansford Hastings had no love of Mexicans and many Native Americans, but it was interesting to read the historical perspective. A must-read for any western history or gold rush history buff. 

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About the author (1994)

Hastings was a lawyer and leader of the Oregon and California Emigrants of 1842.

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