Oregon Trail

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The Oregon Trail AP Us History 12/11/2012 RISHON LOPER |

Rishon Loper
December 11, 2012
Mr. Petter
Ap US History
The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail was a wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri Valley to valleys in Oregon. It opened new ways of life in the west coast. The Oregon Trail was the beginning of an increased expansionism west, resurfacing the issues of slavery and sectionalism and forever changing the economy of America. “The Oregon Trail was a pathway to the west” (Think Quest). The expansion to the west started around 1843 when pioneers moved towards the west coast. These Missouri valley people left their homes because of hearing of an untouched paradise to start a better life. They heard of this fertile land that was theirs for taking” (Crossing the Oregon Trail). Nearly 10,000 Americans roamed this trail. The trail lasted about 2,000 miles with the Oregon Trail and California trail being the same route for half of the distance. “It took six or seven months (give or take one) to travel the whole trail” (The Far Western Frontier, 1830-1860). The goal was to depart at the end of April and arrive just before November: that meant beating the heavy snow fall. The Expansionism and traveling of the Oregon Trail took its toll on many. “The trail was filled with hardships, and dangers proved numerous and discouraging” (The far Western Frontier, 1830-1860). Drowning, friendly fires, and trampling by livestock and wagons were all so common. Sickness also ravished the travelers. Cholera was most common. It was a diarrhea illness caused an infection in the intestines. Spread by water and food it killed many. Another prevalent sickness was malaria. It was transmitted my infected mosquitoes which caused chills, sweats, and fevers. Amongst the disease and infection the weather played a major role on the trail. The travelers who decided to journey on the trail during summer proved costly for many. During the summer, the pioneers dealt with hail, thunder, and lightning storms. “One in 10 people did not survive the trip” (Oregon Trail History). “One common misconception about the traveler’s journey is that the biggest danger was the Indians or Native Americans” (Oregon Trail History). A lot of Native Americans were actually friendly. Many run offs with the Natives were mainly trades. “In reality, few Americans died in the hands of the Indians in the “numerous” massacres that went on between them” (Oregon Trail History). In fact, there was only one “real massacre” that took place. It involved the Sioux Indian tribe, lieutenant Gratten, and twenty eight of his soldiers. One of the Cows belonging to Lt. Gratten wandered off in the Sioux village. The Indians came across the cow, then killed and ate it. “Lt. Gratten ordered his men into the Sioux village to have the Indians pay for their mistake” (Oregon Trail History). The Indians had no idea the cow belonged to Lt. Gratten and respectively offered a horse in return. Lt. Gratten didn’t want any negotiating. He told his men to fire at the Sioux Indians. “The Sioux Chief on the contrary warned his people not to retaliate. The Chief was killed in the end result of the confrontation, sparking a decade long war” (Oregon Trail History). “Despite the troubles, the journey was still completed for the reason of a better life” (The Far Western Frontier, 1830-1860). A better life for the people who traveled the Oregon Trail meant expanding the lands of America coast to coast. Many viewed it as helping with our national Defense. “They didn’t want European or Mexican influence in America” (The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean). By occupying land on the West Coast it also helped economically. “The Expansion helped to expand the reach and influence of slavery into new places” (The Oregon Trail: Westward Migration to the Pacific Ocean). When American settlers set their sights on the Oregon Territory over 500k followed the trail to the...
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