Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 3: Liberty for All?
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A Pioneer Family
Segment 5
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By the 1820s, soon after Mexico became independent of Spain, wagon loads of traders were pushing southwest, cutting deep ruts in a path that was called the Santa Fe Trail . In 1831 Josiah Gregg traveled the trail with 100 wagons. Finally he arrived in Santa Fe, as he described: "The arrival produced a great deal of bustle and excitement among the natives. 'Los Americanos!' 'Los carros!' [was] heard in every direction; and crowds of women and boys flocked around to see the newcomers Check The Source - The Santa Fe Trail."

Only a few American women See It Now - A Pioneer Family had traveled the Santa Fe Trail in 1846 when eighteen-year-old Susan Magoffin headed west from Missouri. Newly married and pregnant, she was excited by the adventure. From her tent on the trail she wrote these words: Hear It Now - Susan Magoffin "Oh this is a life I would not exchange for a good deal! There is such independence, so much free uncontaminated air, which impregnates the mind, the feelings, nay every thought, with purity. I breathe free without that oppression and uneasiness felt in the gossiping circles of a settled home."

They had ancestors who had hugged parents and grandparents, wiped away tears, and set out for a New World. Now another generation of men, women, and children was heading west, toward a little-known world, where land was free and fertile and opportunity seemed to be waiting. They were going for the reasons that usually make people move: because they wanted a better life for themselves and their children, or because they were adventurous or restless Check The Source - Elizabeth Dixon Smith Greer on the Oregon Trail. One Missouri farmer wrote home to explain why he was taking the Oregon trail northwest: Hear It Now - Missouri Farmer "Out in Oregon I can get me a square mile of land. And a quarter section for each of you all. Dad burn me, I am done with the country. Winters it's frost and snow to freeze a body; summers the overflow from Old Muddy drowns half my acres; taxes take the yield of them that's left. What say, Maw, it's God's country Check The Source - The Oregon Trail See It Now - The Oregon Trail."

In 1835 a young Frenchman named Alexis de TocquevilleSee It Now - Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of "the holy cult of freedom" he encountered everywhere he traveled in America. He wrote: Hear It Now - Alexis de Tocqueville "Do not ask me to analyze this sublime sentiment; it must be felt. It enters of itself into hearts prepared to receive it; it fills them; it enraptures them."

People were coming to America from all over the world. Mostly these immigrants knew little about America except that it was a land of freedom. But that was what they wanted: freedom and a chance to work.

A Norwegian immigrant put it this way: Hear It Now - Norwegian Immigrant "I feel free and independent among a free people and I am very proud of belonging to a mighty nation, whose institutions must in time come to dominate the entire civilized world."

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Did You Know?
The book that Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, about his American journey and observations, is called Democracy in America. It is still considered one of the best descriptions of our system ever published.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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