Motivations to Emigrate

“Since American scholarship has virtually enshrined the continent-wide westward movement, it is only natural that must of the speculation concerning the overlanders’ motivations has revolved around the so-called ‘pioneer instinct’ of restless frontiersman. . . . Those overlanders who chose to record the stimuli they believed to be impelling them westward, however, usually mentioned such prosaic factors as financial difficulties, the hope of economic improvement in the Far West, the search for better health, or political or patriotic considerations, before admitting to a general restlessness or a desire for adventure. Occasionally noted was also was the desire to get away from the increasingly virulent passions surrounding the Negro and slavery, the wish to flee the artificialities and restraints of society, the possibility of of evading capture for indiscretions ranging from theft to murder, the willingness to undertake missionary work among the Indians, the attempt to forget a romance gone sour. Some even claimed to be moving because of the better fishing reported in Oregon.”