His exploits on the American frontier inspired dozens of dime novels. But the stories told in these wildly popular books belie the complexities of the real Kit Carson, whose life embodies the contradictions in the story of the American West.
An illiterate mountain man, he was fluent in Spanish and five Indian languages; he twice married Native American women, yet led a brutal war against the Navajo. When the West was a mystery to most Americans, Carson mastered it, and his expertise made him not only famous, but also sought after. Eventually, by helping to spur a migration that would change the West forever, he unwittingly became an agent in the destruction of the life he loved.
Combining rich archival materials of the period with original recreations this AMERICAN EXPERIENCE production brings the legendary trapper, scout, and soldier to vivid life, and provides a lens on a pivotal but little-understood era in American history.
The Last Stand, the final act of General George Custer's larger-than-life career, played out on a grand stage with a spellbound public engrossed in the drama. Part of the Wild West collection.
The story of Native peoples’ valiant resistance to expulsion from their lands and the extinction of their culture.
The Native American leader fought against U.S. expansion onto Apache tribal land. The story of a tragic collision of two civilizations.
The African American jazz composer and bandleader performed regularly at Harlem's Cotton Club, leaving a legacy in music.
A central figure in the narrative of how the west was won, Wyatt Earp and his story became an American legend. Part of the Wild West collection.
Harry Truman was responsible for finding America's place at the start of the Cold War. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
A peanut farmer who rose to become America's 39th president. Part of the award-winning Presidents collection.
The story of a Russian immigrant and anarchist who is said to have inspired the assassination of President William McKinley.