With them they took" 2,213 cattle, 124 horses, 887 cows, 358 sheep . . . " 28 The prescribed outfit for a family of five was one wagon, three yokes of cattle, two cows, two steers, three sheep, one thousand pounds of flour, twenty pounds of sugar, a tent and bedding, seeds, farming tools, and a rifle, equipment adequate for a long journey.Next Page
The first caravan passed successfully across the mountains. The last, composed of 1,300 poor souls of the "hand-cart brigade" suffered miserably, many perishing in the wintry blasts which swept down upon them. The first groups took up the best sites and sections in the Beehive colony.
The emigration of Mormon converts from Liverpool to Salt Lake offers a case study in the nature of the American Dream. One reads: 29
The fourth and fifth decades of the nineteenth century proved an epoch of misery and unrest, when the poor of every land were seeking escape from political and industrial oppression . . . . The wretched operatives of Manchester . . . miners . . . struggling artisans . . . land-less peasants . . . the superfluous population . . . thousands accepted the Mormon faith and prepared to migrate to the promised land . . . .
Such is the setting. America was offering, in Utah, a great opportunity to the poor, wretched, oppressed. Such is the "build up." But alas! Of those who came to America, 30
By far the greater number were farmers and mechanics of the better class who had the means to remove to the land of opportunity . . . . The amount of luggage brought to the docks by Mormon passengers was a common complaint of ships' captains, who avowed that the vessel lay an inch deeper in the water on this account.
Thus the under-privileged were left behind by persons with over-heavy baggage.
However, many parts of the West received a goodly share of lower class elements; the West was settled by types other than the gentry of Kentucky, the planters of the southwest and the middle classes of the north.
The westward movement of the lower classes. There were poor pioneers; they tended to settle marginal lands and to receive marginal opportunities. That there were so many in so many sections of the West is itself proof that they were the descendants of the poor and wretched of the East, because by simple mathematics the upper and middle classes could not have produced so many unsuccessful progeny, even if a large portion of them were utter failures; they did not have so many children. There is little to show that the lower classes of the West were made up of the third generation of "shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves."
The West was not a paradise for those who had nothing -- it dealt with such stinging rebukes that many who walked westward also walked back again. The West offered great opportunities to those with excess baggage, to those with fat fast horses, with beautiful furniture, with commercial and professional training. To the poor the West was not infrequently a mirage of undying fountains of sweet water. It was a chance to live roughly, rudely, and to suffer much. But it was hardly a place where the upper and middle classes did not have and keep their advantage. It is true, also, that most of the workers and small farmers and renters made "a fair living" as long as employment and farm prices held out; it is likewise true that the condition of some of the poor in the southern states, in the Great Lakes region, and in the mountains rapidly became worse with the passing of time. They found themselves stranded on cut-over, eroded, and otherwise marginal land, especially in Missouri, Arkansas, Colorado, western Kansas, the Dakotas, and northern Wisconsin and Michigan.
That the lower classes moved westward, sometimes in advance of the "civilized" elements, sometimes simultaneously with the upper and middle classes, sometimes as "follow uppers" in the building of railroads, towns, and in occupying marginal lands, cannot be questioned. It is not true, however, that the poor backwoodsman, who had not title to the land and who continuously "hit for the tall timber," was always followed by middle class elements. Another type of lower class farmer also moved westward alongside those of higher status, settling on marginal farms.
28. Ibid., p. 174.
29. Ibid., pp. 185 - 186.
30. Loc. cit.