Thar’s Money in That Old Quilt: Then and Now, The Difference in American Leadership

By J. Speer-Williams – My Catbird Seat

“No thief will ever guess that we have $10,000 sewn into Grandma’s old quilt,” said Mrs. Donner to her three girls and husband, after dinner, one cold night, while in their warm and comfortable living room.

In early 1846, the wealthy Illinois family of George and Tamsen Donner, with their three daughters, were about to become American pioneers to California. And 10,000 dollars – equal to about 150,000 to 200,000 dollars, today – would go a long way in ensuring their success in California. But why go?

Many pioneers believed in Manifest Destiny, an idea that the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans belonged to America , and Americans had not only the right, but the duty to settle those lands.

And, they – like many Americans of that day – were robust, brave, and instilled with the pioneer spirit, a spirit so lacking in many of us, today.

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