The American West – Ep 2 Sneak Peek
Spanning the years from 1865 to 1890, The American West, shows how, in the aftermath of the Civil War, the United States transformed into the “land of opportunity.”
The 8-episode series chronicles the personal, little-known stories of American Western legends such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.
The west was won in the 40 years between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the century. From the Civil War veterans first heading out into the unknown, to the final gunshot that closed the Frontier, the west would come to define American identity. But the land didn’t come without a fight. As the borders expanded further and further, outlaws ruled the land, and in this lawless territory, the only justice was power.
Brutal gang wars raged, and by necessity, came the earliest form of law. But in the west, money and greed ruled everything, and having the law on your side meant nothing: the only thing that mattered was who could shoot the fastest.
The American West catapults you into a violent world of cowboys, Native Americans, outlaws and gunslingers. The ground runs red with the blood of their stories, from Jesse James to Billy the Kid. These men were the first to live the American dream, and the first to die for it.
Executive Producer Robert Redford’s knowledge and passion for this period is apparent in each of the eight episodes, as well as appearances from Ed Harris, James Caan, Kris Kristofferson, Mark Harmon, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds and Kiefer Sutherland.
Two Front War
Between the deep unrest in the South and the mounting war with the Plains Indians in the West, America’s military is stretched thin. Rather than continue a costly war with the Sioux Indians, President Ulysses S. Grant decides to uphold a peace policy with the Sioux. The quelled tensions in the West allow Thomas Durant and the Union Pacific to complete the country’s first Transcontinental Railroad, opening the floodgates for America’s Western settlers. However, the railroad boom also provides outlaw Jesse James with a new target, and the Southern newspapers seize on James’s train robbery exploits, turning him into a Southern hero.
Union spymaster Allan Pinkerton is brought in to pursue James and his gang, resulting in the murder of one of Pinkerton’s agents. As America’s railroad boom collapses, President Grant’s hopes to repair the nation by expanding West begin to collapse as “The Panic of 1873” sends the country plummeting into a severe economic depression.