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Lansford Hastings
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    Born in Knox County, Ohio
    Lawyer, Judge, and California land promoter
    Birth name was Lansford Warren Hastings
    Initially resided in Mount Vernon, Ohio, before traveling West to Oregon and California in 1842
    Wrote 'The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California' (1845)
    Also wrote 'The Emigrant's Guide to Brazil' (1867)
    Developer of the Hastings Cutoff, a shortcut across the territory now known as Utah
    Hastings Cutoff subsequently has been cited as the main factor leading to the tragic fate of the Donner Party in 1846
    He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
    He tried to sell Jefferson Davis on sending troops to conquer California and Arizona for the Confederacy.
    He died trying to establish a colony of disgruntled ex-Confederates in Brazil.
    He was fingered as primarily to blame for the terrifying ordeal endured by the Donner Party, resulting in cannibalism.
    He lived a 19th-century playboy existence before abandoning his profession to 'get rich quick' off of the Westward migration.
    He was deposed as leader of his first wagon train when he spent too much time autographing Independence Rock for posterity, resulting in his being left behind (he was subsequently kidnapped and robbed by Indians).
    He had ambitions to take California from Mexico and establish an independent state with himself at its head.
    He wrote his 'Emigrant' guidebook in hopes of drawing a sizable force of settlers who could enact a 'bloodless revolution by sheer numbers.'
    He devised what he claimed was the fastest route to California and actively promoted it, even though he had never traveled the route himself.
    He worsened the Donner Party's predicament by allowing them to travel as far as far as Echo Canyon before leaving them a note telling them that his route was virtually impassable (they were no longer able to turn back).
    It took close to five days for the wagon train's leadership to locate him, after which he not only refused to accompany the Party to find a new route, but advised them to travel into the vast Wasatch Range, insuring that they would not make it to California before the dead of winter.
    His ambitions to 'conquer California' were killed off during the Mexican-American War when Mexico ceded the Californian territory to the United States in 1848.
    Ironically, the Mexican-American War was also the main reason that a rescue party would not be sent for the Donner Party for months, essentially sealing their fate.
    He did not coin the term 'Hastings Cutoff.'
    He initially had difficulty publishing his Emigrant travel guide-book.
    He was a delegate to the 1849 California Constitutional Convention.
    Some historians claim he was unfairly painted as 'the villain' of the Donner Party story.
    He was on the receiving end of death threats when the Donner Party's fate became known.
    He had no way of knowing that pioneers who followed his cutoff route would end up the way they did.
    He allegedly told survivors who confronted him that he 'meant well' and 'was very sorry.'
    He allegedly warned Party leaders not to take their families and heavy wagons through his shortcut, but they did it anyway, with disastrous results.
    He was held for ransom, at 23, by Indians for his wagon train's valuables, but was saved by a mountain main who traded food and trinkets in exchange for his freedom.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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