James Beckwourth

Born Apr 26, 1798

James Pierson Beckwourth, born James Beckwith and generally known as Jim Beckwourth, was an American mountain man, fur trader, and explorer. Beckwourth was also famously known as "Bloody Arm" because of his skill as a fighter. He was mixed-race and born into slavery in Virginia. He was freed by his white father, and apprenticed to a blacksmith so that he could learn a trade.
As a young man, Beckwourth moved to the American West, first making connections with fur traders in St. Louis, Missouri. As a fur trapper, he lived with the Crow Nation for years. He is credited with the discovery of Beckwourth Pass, through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, between present-day Reno, Nevada, and Portola, California, during the California Gold Rush years. He improved the Beckwourth Trail, which thousands of settlers followed to central California.
The trapper narrated his life story to Thomas D. Bonner, an itinerant justice of the peace. The book was published in New York City and London in 1856 as The Life and Adventures of James P. Beckwourth: Mountaineer, Scout and Pioneer, and Chief of the Crow Nation of Indians. A translation was published in France in 1860.
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