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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
James Pierson Beckwourth

James Pierson Beckwourth
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.79

     challenging words:    exaggeration, trapping, bloody, inaccurate, military, lifetime, suspect, recruit, disagreement, warrior, fashion, route, army, chief, enemy, government
     content words:    James Pierson Beckwourth, James Beckwourth, Sir Jennings Beckwith, While James, New Orleans, Rocky Mountains, American Fur Company, Bobtail Horse, Bloody Arm, Medicine Calf

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James Pierson Beckwourth
By Mary L. Bushong

1     Have you ever wished you could be famous? Maybe you would like to be an explorer or a soldier. A man named James Pierson Beckwourth was a man who could do almost anything. He started life as a slave, but he did not stay one. He went on to become a mountain man, explorer, trader, and a chief among the Crow tribe.
2     It is thought that James Beckwourth was born in 1798, in Virginia. His mother was a slave, but his father was an Englishman named Sir Jennings Beckwith. (The boy's last name may be different because it was mispronounced and misspelled.) While James was still considered a slave under the law, his father treated him as a son. His father also granted him his freedom.
3     While he was still young, the family moved to Missouri. James was apprenticed to a blacksmith, but he was unhappy. There was much to see of the West. After getting into a disagreement with his boss, he left home in 1822. After staying in New Orleans for a short time, he returned home. Within two years, he wanted to travel again. He joined a trapping expedition to the Rocky Mountains.
4     Over the next few years he worked for the American Fur Company. From them he learned the skills he would use for the rest of his life. James didn't want to be just a mountain man; he wanted to be the most famous mountain man who ever lived.
5     On an expedition in about 1828, James said he was captured by a party of Crow warriors. Supposedly mistaken for the long lost son of a chief, he was adopted into the tribe. James stayed with the tribe for the next six to eight years. He not only lived with them but hunted and went with them to war. His reputation as a warrior earned him a lot of respect.

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