Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Manifest Destiny

I have chosen a diary of the settlement of the Western USA by Oregon Pioneer Biographies.
(Link to the page: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orgenweb/bios/plains.html )

This image shows the trip of the Oregon Trail and the route of which the diary took, through the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Within the diary it does state that they were lost in the mountains for six months, so for these people it must have taken them a lot longer than usual, despite using the train.

Reminiscences of a Trip Across the Plains in '45
by Mrs. Burnett (nee Lucy Jane Hall)

"We started on our way with thirsty wagons and about fifty men" This shows that the settlement of the USA at this time was extremely popular, as so many people set off on the trip across the plains. This tells us that in the United States, the belief of manifest destiny, as the American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent, westward, especially as with this diary, it isn't just a family, but many people including thirty wagons. However, the fact that a diary is being written whilst they are taking the trip across the plains, recording their life and the events that happen during this time, suggests that this was an unusual thing to do, and that many people didn't believe that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent, westward. 

"A wedding occurred..event was celebrated by a dance on the grass under the stars" This is interesting that this is included in the diary of the settlement of the Western USA, because it suggests that the lifestyle of this time was considered the norm, and acceptable to get married while on the move. This makes you consider that the movement West and the settlement of the Western USA was so important to the people during this time, that your lifestyle had to change, and you had to adapt to your current location, as you were always on the move, while trying to live your life. This may have had an impact on why the advancement of the settlement West got increasingly faster, as people were used to living in areas which they were not familiar with it's surroundings. However, as the diary states "captain of our train" meaning that the advancement West had already been going on for some time, as new technology was helping them to achieve their journey. 

"We are saved, we are saved! Thank God!..."for now I know the way"...He could locate the trail...from the stream." This is interesting as it demonstrates that the people relied on nature, wilderness and savagery in order to survive, get by and to help them in times of need, which is the complete opposite of what they were on route for (civilisation). So these people had not adapted completely to the West.However, the fact that they desperately needed water indicates that they were actually used to civilisation as they struggled to find a stream, which is considered Eastern which is where they have come from. 

"Indians made an attempt to attack our train" This shows that the journey was not easy, yet people still did it anyway. This emphasises the idea of manifest destiny. The diary proves that the people came across different people, as they made their way across the plains, and in this particular case, they were not afraid by the Indians, despite it being considered their territory, which reveals the determination of these people. 

"Many were sick and some died" The fact that people died on route indicates that it wasn't easy, and it must have meant a lot to them, if people were dying due to the bad conditions in places. This could have also contributed to the quick advancement, as if they didn't move quickly, there would be a danger of never making it at all. 

"if not all, would have perished." and "other Indians tied her clothes on their heads and swam across." It seems as though the Indians not only caused them problems earlier on, but they also helped them as well, especially when they got lost in the mountains for six weeks, This diary proves that different people experienced different things and had different ideas about the Indians. 

"When found we people were on the verge of starvation."  The title of the diary suggests that these people didn't and wasn't planning on staying West, as it is regarded as a trip rather than a journey. This idea is confusing as the diary comments on families, not just single men, which would indicate that they were going West for a long period of time.

This diary was probably written so that they could track how long it would take them, to record what they may see or to generally write about their lives on a daily basis, which included families and Indians, whilst moving West through the plains by train.

Grace La Traille


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