E3 - Westward
Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears
- A new country heads West with new heroes and a new enemy - The American wildness.
- The pioneers face incredible hardship, but their battles forge the American character and build the new American nation.
- We are pioneers and trailblazers. We fight for freedom. We transform our dreams into the truth. Our struggles will become a nation.
- 300 million years BC. A meteorite the size of Central Park...hurtles towards Earth,
- With the force of 100,000 Atomic bombs, it smashes into the Appalachian Mountains. The Cumberland Gap.
- When America passes through this gateway and conquers what lies beyond, a colony will become a continent.
- I think Americans have always been-- have been pioneers. (Man) We're a nation of adventurers and explorers.
- We are always moving forward and we're always dealing with problems, not ignoring them.
- 1775. Land west of the Cumberland Gap belongs to a patchwork of foreign superpowers: Britain, France, Spain.
- The rest occupied by hundreds of Native American tribes. 3,000 miles of fertile land.
- Millions of acres for anyone who can conquer it. Riches, too. Thousands of tons of gold and silver. (Growling) (Screaming)
- But this land is also brutal wilderness. Conquering it requires extraordinary people.
- March 1775. Daniel Boone: Woodsman, hunter, freedom fighter, explorer...dreamer.
- Okay, men, keep clearing. Cut it through, we're coming through here. Boone and his 30 men slash through the Cumberland Gap...
- On a mission to tap the riches. Cut it through, we're coming through here.
- (Daniel Boone) Before us lay the finest body of land in the world, with which little exertion we can call our own.
- One day thousands will desire this land and we will be rich.
- But Boone's journey into the western wilderness is also a journey into the American soul.
- The frontier is a crucible where America will define itself and forge its true character.
- The King of England has outlawed any Western expansion, illegal settlers rounded up and punished.
- Boone's already fought the British back East. Now he's defying them again.
- (Man) Daniel Boone was that first great action hero for America. America wanted to see itself that way, I think.
- They wanted to see themselves as fiercely independent, very capable and...
- And willing to go places most human beings wouldn't have gone. Come on, men, this way.
- Boone and his men take no supplies. Come on, come on! Survival: conjured from the land.
- Bear grease: insect repellent. Wasp larvae: food. Come on, come on! Boone records in his journal.
- (Daniel Boone) We are exposed daily to peril and death amongst savages and wild beasts.
- But nature satisfies all we need. Few experience the happiness we feel here in the howling wilderness.
- But for the Shawnee, this is not wilderness. It is home. And they will defend it...at all costs. Good work, John, good work. (man)
- These areas that seemed like wilderness to the Americans weren't wilderness to these American-Indian people.
- That was just their lands. Daniel Boone and the Shawnee have history.
- Only the year before, they kidnapped his eldest son, James...and tortured him to death.
- On the 25th of March, 1775, Boone crosses into Shawnee territory.
- In the mountains for eight days...people were able to survive on this...with nothing to eat.
- (Men shouting) (Man) Go, go! Go, go, run! Rifles, get 'me, come on! (Screaming)
- Ambushed, Boone must flee. His friend, Captain Twitty, and his slave, Sam, are both scalped and slaughtered.
- But Boone pushes on further west. (Man) Well, I think more than anything, the American character is perseverance.
- They persevered, they fought, it wasn't easy against great odds, but they had persevered.
- Boone's friend and companion Felix Walker writes: "He conducted the company through the wilderness with such bravery."
- Indeed he appeared void of fear, with too little caution for the enterprise.
- 50 of Boone's men die settling Kentucky. But within 20 years, 200,000 Americans pour in behind him.
- (Man) We were a burgeoning society.
- Suddenly we realized, "Whoa, the owner's manual says, "This is all ours. Keep going west."
- Land hunger becomes a fever...even for the government.
- 1803. 27 years after independence, the single biggest real-estate deal in history.
- President Thomas Jefferson buys the vast Louisiana Territory from Napoleon.
- Half a billion acres for 3￠ an acre. Just as America will one day go to the moon, now a mission into this unknown.
- Lewis and Clark wanna see what's on the other side? Given a mountain, we wanna climb it.
- We hold those...ventures of the past in great admiration.
- May 1804. A presidential aide and a junior army officer set out on a mapping expedition.
- Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's journey is about to become one of the most epic tales of survival in American history.
- (Thundering) The Rockies: Unknown, mythical. Even woolly mammoth are fabled to roam here. Treacherous, too.
- No one expects the Rockies to be 90 separate mountain ranges, 3,000 miles long.
- They're caught in a death trap. After two weeks, starvation sets in. They eat any plants they can find.
- Next, they eat their horses. The expedition is given up as dead.
- But they survive, and they owe their survival to a 16-year-old Native American girl.
- Sacagawea of the Shoshone Nation guides them, finds wild food, and saves their precious million-word journals from an overturned canoe.
- In 1805, William Clark notes in his journal: (William Clark) "Ocean in view! O! The joy!"
- They are the first New Americans to reach the Pacific Ocean over land.
- Lewis and Clark's remarkable expedition discovers 300 Species of wildlife, transforming science and agriculture.
- But their journals record an even greater discovery, one that will forge a whole new breed of American hero.
- (Growling) (Narrator) America. East and West. The pioneering spirit of Americans has busted the continent wide-open.
- Lewis and Clark's heroic expedition through the Rockies uncovers a route to the West's most valuable commodity...beaver.
- Their pelts, frontier hard currency. Traded by Native Americans for guns, knives, salt.
- And they're a high-fashion luxury for the rich. They've been hunted nearly to extinction in Europe. Here they're everywhere.
- Millions of them. The freezing Rocky Mountain water makes the beaver pelts thicker, warmer, more expensive than other fur.
- New iron traps from New York foundries make catching them easier.
- Baited with the beaver's own scent glands, they're drawn to their death.
- October 1823. 300 eager trappers roam the Rockies, searching for their fortune.
- One in five won't make it out alive. Trapping's harsh, hungry work.
- 6,000 calories a day are needed to survive the extreme conditions--Three times what we eat today.
- Jedediah Smith is the greatest hunter of all. 24 years old. He walks up to 1,000 miles in the Rockies each year.
- Traps 600 pelts in a season--Three years' pay back East.
- Smith is a devout Christian. Doesn't drink, doesn't smoke. Bible and gun a constant companion.
- He's smart, works with the Native Americans.
- The Crow show him ancient shortcuts, well him horses, nurse his sick men back to health.
- Wilderness survival.
- For millennia, the tribes of North America have adapted themselves to live in any condition, from arid plains to harsh mountain pass.
- Jed Smith uses their knowledge and his skill to open up the West for vast fur-trapping profits.
- He'll die a rich man. But today he's not the hunter. He's the hunted. (Growling)
- Jed Smith's friend James Clyman writes: "The grizzly did not hesitate, springing on the captain, breaking his ribs and cutting his head."
- (Growling) (Groaning) This gave us a lesson on the character of the grizzly, which we did not forget.
- The grizzly bear is the most deadly frontier beast. 100,000 of these terrifying killers were on the prowl.
- Up to ten feet tall, 1,000 pounds; they don't fear man...Yet.
- Today there are fewer than 2,000 grizzlies in the Rockies. Halfway to death, Jed Smith's right-hand man, Jame Clyman,
- Stitches his scalp and ear back to his head.
- (James Clyman) I put in my needle, stitching it through and through
- And over and over, laying the lacerated parts together as nice as I could.
- (Man) There is an amazing sense of confidence as part of that American spirit that doesn't...even think about failing.
- Jed Smith pushes on. This is the new character of America:
- Frontier grit, rugged individualism, survival. And something else survives, too.
- The trails he forges become settler paths, wagon trains, roads, and today, Interstate 15.
- And Americans follow the new tracks west in a tidal wave of hope. (Horse neighing)
- May 1846. Thousands of men, women and children. Riding. Walking. Pushing.
- They're heading for a new life 2,000 miles away. It was a land of opportunity.
- You can make of yourself what you want. You're only held back by your own desires.
- Germans, Belgians, French. Catholics, Presbyterians, Mormons.
- One of the world's great mass migrations begins. The pioneer spirit has moved on.
- In this colossal migration to Oregon and California, America will finally define its character.
- It's the American dream, then as now, the people want an already good life to get better.
- They can walk ten miles a day for up to six months straight.
- Some go through ten pairs of boots each. Half are children.
- En route, one in five of the women are pregnant.
- But these aren't America's poor. Families sell farms, save for five years to join the exodus, risking it all.
- (Woman) "I think if there is one episode that encapsulates the American spirit, I think it is probably the move west.
- Whip those mules and horses and cross those rivers and cross over those mountains to the unknown and say,
- "I'm leaving everything behind. I'm leaving everything that I know behind to reinvent myself."
- A wagon and oxen cost minimum $5,000 in today's money. But it buys a complete life-support machine.
- The wagons carry a precious cargo, 1,000 pounds of supplies, and a grubstake for your journey--
- Your entire new life in the West. The pioneering spirit is ingenious.
- Essential drinking water captured from rain on the wagon canvas. Even the oxen's dung is fuel for fires.
- And like today, there are tolls. Native Americans charge $10 for road and $100 for river crossings, in modern money.
- But the greatest toll of all...human lives. In all, 20,000 Americans will die reaching the West.
- Ten graves for every mile. (Thundering)
- But one story of suffering and death will show just how far the pioneers will go to conquer the West.
- Hiyah! Hiyah, hiyah! (Horse neighing)
- (Narrator) June 1846. (Horse neighing) A wagon train heads west. Its leader is George Donner. Good luck.
- (Foreign language) (Woman screaming) Good, now push! Push!
- His wife, Tamsen Donner, is a schoolteacher. (Foreign language) Yes, okay.
- But on the trail, women must turn their hands to anything. (Screaming) Push, that's it! Yeah, push, push!
- The Donner Party are halfway across the blistering Wyoming Prairie, miles from the nearest doctor, with barely any water.
- (Screaming) Good, yes. Okay.
- (Woman) I think the women who came across America In the early days, must've been made up of the strongest fiber possible.
- It's unimaginable. Good. (Screaming) Yes. (Foreign language) (Baby crying) Ludwig. (Foreign language)
- The new American's mother and father are Philippine and Ludwig Keseberg.
- They christen their son Louis. (Baby crying) The journey is tough...but the going's good.
- Tamsen Donner writes in her journal:
- "I could never have believed we could have traveled so far with so little difficulty...
- Indeed if we do not experience anything worse, I shall say the trouble is all in getting started."
- But as leader of the wagon train, Tamsen's husband, George Donner, is aware there's one final obstacle to their journey.
- The Sierra Nevada. Peaks up to 14,000 feet.
- Fail to clear the mountain passes before the first snow falls and the consequences are terrifying.
- But as the Donner Party approaches Utah, George Donner makes a fateful decision--
- Leading a splinter group off from the main party. (Horse neighing)
- He's read one of the many new trail guidebooks, showing a shortcut that claims to shave two weeks off the journey time.
- (George Donner) Hastings Cutoff is said to be a saving of 400 miles.
- We are informed it is a fine, level road with plenty of water and grass.
- But Donner's information is wrong. In fact, the "Shortcut" adds 100 miles to the journey.
- High in the Sierra Nevada, the Donner Party enters the Truckee Pass. (Thundering)
- They're only 30 miles from the California plains.
- But supplies are dangerously low, and traveling through the mountains is taking its toll. (Rattling) A broken axle.
- The Donner Party stops to make repairs. (Wolf howling) But that night...5 feet of snow falls.
- Soon the drifts are 60 feet deep. The Donner Party will be stranded for five months.
- In just three weeks, tThey've eaten all their food. Then they kill their pack animals.
- Next, they eat charred bones, twigs, bark, leaves, dirt...and worse.
- (Eliza Donner) Even the wind held its breath as the suggestion was made that was one to die, the rest might live.
- Cannibalism. Christmas 1846. They eat their first human. Bodies are cut up, flesh labeled, so people don't eat their own kin.
- Four rescue parties bring out some survivors. The very last finds Philippine's husband Ludwig, alone.
- He is surrounded by bones, entrails, and a 2-gallon kettle of human blood.
- George Donner's body is found, skull split open, his brain removed. Tamsen Donner's body is never found.
- The pass is renamed the "Donner Pass," testament to the hardship of the pioneers' push West.
- Today it's the Lincoln Highway. Thousands drive this road every year.
- But beneath the bones of the Donner Party, the Sierra Nevada conceals a seam of gold.
- Largest the world has yet seen. (Screaming)
- Gold fever is about to change the West and the American character yet again.
- March 1836. Texas, the Alamo. The American nation is expanding, growing stronger, bigger.
- But there's something else out there even bigger, even stronger:
- Mexico-- a superpower. A colossal empire stretching from Oregon to Guatemala. But Texas is disputed territory.
- The Mexican government has invited American settlers in, but are soon overwhelmed by the flood of pioneers.
- Americans, by the thousands, were coming into Texas and they were not abiding to the agreements to come in as settlers.
- And once they outnumber-- By 1835--Mexicans ten to one in that area, of course the Americans are thinking about independence.
- (Gunshots firing) The Alamo is where Mexico tries to stem the flood. (Screaming)
- The shots that killed Davy Crockett and his fellow settlers echoed across America.
- The women and children are spared, sent back to send the Mexican message, "Don't come."
- But America hears something else. "Remember the Alamo." (Screaming) (Gunshot firing)
- A turning point. America will now wage war to go west. Texas is won; California fought and bought.
- The same month California becomes American, it becomes the nation's greatest prize.
- Volcanic magma.Over millions of years, in a fault zone beneath the Sierra Nevada, cooling and pressure create quartz.
- And within the quartz, gold. The seam is one of the densest on the planet.
- Rocks erode and the riches are released.
- 1848. Carpenter James Marshall finds a 3-ounce nugget in the California river.
- Two months' pay in his hand, but billions of dollars beneath his feet.
- News of Marshall's discovery spreads to every corner of the world.
- In California, you can taste the American dream: Get rich quick.
- Within a year, 100,000 Desperate amateur prospectors flood the Sierra foothills.
- It was the American dream distilled to its essence. Take yourself and go out and try and make a success of it.
- A Chinese prospector's 100-ounce strike in the Yuba River.
- $26,000 made by a single Irishman in just four days.
- A $200,000 super seam mined by 12 Mexicans at Bear Valley.
- In the port of San Francisco, a plot of land worth $16 Before the gold strike now changes hands for $45,000.
- In two years, the population of California explodes from 15,000 to 100,000.
- Now, hand-panning is replaced by lines of sluice boxes desperately combing for anything the first prospectors missed.
- And the price of living rockets. Picks, pans, shovels go from a few cents to $10 apiece.
- Breakfast costs ten times what it does back East. But still the people come.
- 200 abandoned ships in San Francisco harbor, the crews deserting, rushing for the hills.
- He's traveled 6,000 miles. He's spent all his money. Now he travels by foot.
- Belgian Jean-Nicolas Perlot writes:
- "We crossed 200 miles of wilderness full of Indians, bears, panthers, wildcats, snakes of every kind."
- The first thing he finds isn't gold. Its graves. 200 of them. Prospectors cut off by rains in the foothills starved to death.
- (Jean-Nicolas Perlot) Approaching, we realized animals of some kind had dug up the bodies.
- I read a note attached to one of the graves.
- "God has willed that civilization should begin in this place, with this duty which a man owes to his kind. Bury the dead."
- Perlot does find gold, but never in the quantities that he'd dreamed.
- As the gold fields are picked clean, tensions rise, times get tougher.
- After just five years, the Gold Rush is over.
- (Man) I think that there is that western mentality of prospecting--
- Try and fail, try and fail, and the fact that you tried is worthy in and of itself.
- Of 300,000 Who rush to find gold, less than one out of 100 Struck it rich.
- But fortunes were made by the merchants and landowners who supplied the miners.
- From dirt and dreams came the great cities of California.
- (Ship whistles blowing) Both the West and the American character that built it are settled.
- Now this new powerhouse will face another revolution.
- October 1818. A nine-year-old boy comforts his mother as she lies on her deathbed.
- Milk sickness kills thousands of pioneers every year. The cause:
- White Snakeroot eaten by cattle, The deadly poison passed in milk to humans.
- At 18, the boy becomes a man, but he has been working like a man for years, battling for existence in this harsh environment.
- (Abraham Lincoln) "It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up.
- I had an ax in my hand from my eighth to my 20th year."
- This is the life of American settler stock. The young man's grandfather followed Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road into Kentucky.
- His father pushed further into the primeval forests of Indiana.
- Settler families of ten or more live in log cabins built from scratch. Single roomed, basic. The trailer homes of the day.
- The wilderness provides everything. They make their own plows, rakes, forks, shovels, build their own furniture.
- And they bury their dead. In bad years, malaria kills one in eight of the settlers.
- Life expectancy is half of what it is today. But from adversity comes strength.
- This settler's name is Abraham. Abraham Lincoln.
- If you work hard, you can do anything you wanna do. The possibilities are endless.
- To me, that was the American dream, as a kid.
- Lincoln's family and thousands like theirs have settled the West in four generations.
- President Thomas Jefferson thought it would take 1,000.
- The forests are cleared: Five acres a family, a year.
- In 1800, 23 million acres of Indiana is wilderness.
- In 60 years, it's tamed, flat, fertile farmland. But there is more than forest to clear.
- "It's always been one of the deep flaws of the American imagination, that it can't imagine a future for American-Indian people as Americans."
- American-Indian people have to imagine that for themselves, and that's the hard part.
- (Man) Keep walking. 1830. Frontier president Andrew Jackson declares a new policy, a policy that America will maintain for more than 100 years.
- The forced relocation of American tribal people onto reservations. (Man) You, keep moving!
- After years of Supreme Court battles, The bill passes Congress by a single vote.
- Chickasaw, Chocktaw, Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, all forced off their nations by the point of a bayonet.
- An episode in the conquest of the West that even some of the soldiers taking part find shameful.
- US Army Private John G. Burnett writes: "The sufferings of the Cherokee were awful."
- The trail of the exiles was a trail of death. They slept in the wagons and on the ground without fire.
- I saw as many as 20 die in a single night of pneumonia, cold, exposure. Move along. Move along.
- The march of 1,000 miles becomes a Trail of Tears.
- It's a shameful act in American history
- And it's, in its own way, sort of an iconic act because it really symbolizes what happened to the Native Americans.
- The West is open for business, but key to the transformation of the region is a river 2,000 miles in length, fed by rainfall from 31 states.
- Running from Minnesota to New Orleans, the Mighty Mississippi.
- It's a lifeline connecting the West to the outside world. If roads exist, they're muddy tracks.
- This is the only trade artery; The interstate that allows the pioneers and settlers to sell the produce they've sweated over.
- (Man) A huge amount of goods are shipped out, But they're shipped out in the most nickel-and-dime way.
- A farmer will build a flatboat, fill it up with hogs, sassafras root, ginseng root, tobacco--whatever it is you grow-- put it on the flatboat,
- Use the power of the Mississippi to drift you down to sell them along the riverbank.
- Aged 19, Abraham Lincoln makes his first trip down the Mississippi, poling his simple raft.
- The current is too strong to return upstream. The primitive flatboats are simply sold as lumber in New Orleans.
- Farmers have to walk the 800 miles home and begin again. But on that first journey, Lincoln sees the future.
- A new invention which will transform the Mississippi, the Midwest and America. (Ship whistle blowing) (Man)
- "The steamboat was the 19th century's time machine, just as surely as the airplane was the 20th century's time machine."
- It shrunk distance. By shrinking distance, it enabled commerce.
- Even upstream, steamboats can travel 50 miles a day, eight times faster, eight times the cargo of a raft.
- But they're deadly. Over half the early models explode, maiming and killing hundreds.
- But their number triples every decade. They make the Midwest America's economic powerhouse.
- Within 20 years, St. Louis alone swells from a few hundred to a population of 16,000.
- Over four generations, America has grown from a 100-mile-wide strip of colonies on the Eastern Seaboard to a continental powerhouse.