Chapter Twenty-Two: The Wild, Wild West
In this lecture you will learn about the Wild, Wild West in American history. It was wild, too, concealing in its arid wastes a dozen ways that a man could die just trying to pass through it. You will discover why millions of Americans still took the risk, and what rewards lay in store for them if they survived the journey. We will explore the lives and roles of the four main players in the unfolding drama; the Indians, the cowboys, the miners, and the ranchers. You will ride with Custer to his famous (or infamous, depending on whose side you were on) Last Stand, and learn how and why what happened to him and his hapless troopers was only one part of a larger plan that the government had to rid the Plains states of the Indian menace. You will also learn about the longer term plans that were made for the surviving Indians after they had been eliminated as a threat to white people, plans considered generous and Progressive at the time, and you will discover why the Indians did not share that sentiment concerning their new role in the white mans' world. Back among the railroad and wagon trains, you will discover why the trickle of fortune-seeking settlers who walked and fought their way across the wilderness of the West from the towns, farms, and cities of the East eventually became an unstoppable tsunami of moving humanity, and what the government did in the meantime that persuaded so many of them to stop en route and stake their claim in the Great American Desert itself (which is what the Plains Territories were called then) rather than continue on to the lush and verdant Promised Lands of Oregon and California. Then you will discover what happened to them as man-made obstacles harried their success even more than Mother Nature's droughts, locusts, and prairie fires. The farmers then started a new political movement to fix this problem, which became a kind of prairie fire of its own as it spread to the East Coast cities and to the ill-paid workers on the factory floors in hundreds of smoky, dirty, dangerous, fire-belching manufacturing plants in the industrial cities. The West became a catalyst for social change throughout the country, and you will discover what eventually happened to that quixotic rebellion against plutocratic power. At the end of this lecture you will know how and why the West (not just the Hollywood version) got its reputation as the place where anybody could go to reinvent themselves and write a new script for whatever future they dared to try and embrace. This file is 1 hr. 29 min. in length and 82 MB in size. You may download it twice. Give it plenty of time to do so.