Western Life

Jedediah Smith

Jedediah Strong Smith was an American hero whose memory is treasured by the American people. He was born on 6th January 1799, in New York. He was known as an explorer and trader who loved to explore different parts of the US territory. He was the first-ever American to enter the state which is now known as California through the East and he returned through an overland route. He died on May 27th 1831.

Smith loved to explore and it is said that he made his first exploration trip in his teens. In the year 1822, he decided to join a group of people that would trade fur and started to go on expeditions with them to the Rocky Mountains and continued to do so for the rest of the decade.

In 1824, Smith was part of the party that discovered the South Pass, a passageway to the North West, which passes through the state now known as Wyoming. A few years later, Smith had started his trading party and decided to explore more. He left the Great Salt Lake and voyaged towards Southern California through the Mojave Desert. This enabled him to be part of the first trading party or exploring party to venture into California from the East.

As his way was blocked by a Mexican governor, Smith and his party decided to choose another way back. They decided to forgo their plan to go North of Oregon and journey towards the American River near Sacramento, California. They then had to go through the Sierra Nevada desert to finally return to the Great Salt Lake.

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In 1827, he decided to return and retrace his moves from the Great Salt Lake to Southern California as he had done before. However, what he did not know was that the Mojave people were ready to attack their party, killing 10 out of the 18 men. However, Smith was fortunate enough to survive. He and his remaining party went all the way to California again. This time he proceeded with his original plan to go to the North of Oregon. Unfortunately, here again, the party was attacked by the Indian people of Umpqua. The Indians ended up slaying all but 2 of the men, out of which was Smith.

In the year 1830, he decided to retire from the Rocky Mountain trade that he had begun. He was, however, successful in clearing up a coastal route from the state of California to Fort Vancouver. This route went along the Columbia River. Jedediah Smith led an exciting and adventurous life, and his contributions helped pave the way for trade and helped the Americans spread their roots. He is an inspiration and a hero in many Americans’ eyes.

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