New Perspectives on THE WEST
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Message From Sponsor
The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
Empire Upon the Trails



The Heart of Everything


In the Midst of Savage Darkness

We go to conquer

Trail of Tears

The Barren Rock

Westward I Go Free

What A Country

So We Die

A Continental Nation

THE WEST Empire Upon The Trails

A Continental Nation

Dayton Duncan"Americans started moving west for all these individual, personal reasons: land, converting Indians, furs. But everywhere they went, the end result was they wanted to make it into the United States. It didn't matter why they went, once they got there they decided, 'This place should be part of the United States.' And in doing so, they brought the nation with them. The nation didn't send them out. They brought the United States with them."
Dayton Duncan

On July 4th, 1848, in Washington, D.C., thousands turned out to see President Polk lay the cornerstone of a new monument -- a giant stone shaft modeled after the obelisks of ancient Egypt to honor the nation's first president.

GeorgeWashington's America had ended at the Mississippi. But now, as Polk spoke to the crowd, the American flag flew over the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas; above the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe; over a growing Mormon settlement in the Great Salt Lake valley; at Spanish ranches in Sonoma, California; and near the ruins of the Whitman mission in the Pacific Northwest.

Polk's nation was a continental United States that stretched from sea to sea and now encompassed the West. In only a generation -- by enterprise and intimidation, by sacrifice and by outright conquest -- Americans had seized it all.

Joe MeekBack in the nation's capital, standing next to the president at the ceremony was the old mountain man Joe Meek. His fondest wish had come true. Born in Washington County, Virginia, he was now the sheriff of a brand-new Washington County -- in Oregon Territory.

A month later, even more good news arrived from this newest section of the country. In California -- on a stream named the American River -- gold had been discovered.

Nothing in the West would ever be the same again.

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