Emigrants' Problems in Crossing the West, 1830-1870
University of Birmingham Historical Journal
Analyzes the problems facing emigrants crossing the American West. The 'major problems were those of crossing rivers, finding forage and water, and deciding on the proper load for waggons,' and not attacks by Indians, as is commonly supposed. The emigrants achieved 'a fair degree of mastery over their purely technical problems,' but they fared 'much worse in dealing with problems of human organisation.' The unity of emigrant groups sometimes broke down, and there was much discontent, even some bloodshed. The author examines the organization of emigrant companies in some detail and emphasizes that the larger Mormon groups, which acknowledged the authority of their leader, ('His leadership was an institution with a spiritual sanction'), were most successful in organizing companies. Based on published sources, mainly diaries, journals, and reminiscences.