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Ken Burns American Stories Season 2 Episodes

Season 2 Episode Guide

10 Episodes 2003 - 2004

Episode 1

Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery

Tue, Nov 4, 1997 120 mins

Part 1 of Burns' two-part 1997 chronicle of "the most important expedition in American history"---Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's 1804-06 exploration of the West, up the Missouri River and then by land to the Pacific Ocean. Included: comments by historian Stephen E. Ambrose, and authors William Least Heat-Moon and Dayton Duncan (who wrote and co-produced the film). Hal Holbrook narrates. Voices include Adam Arkin (Lewis), Murphy Guyer (Clark), Sam Waterston (Thomas Jefferson) and Matthew Broderick (John Ordway).

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Ken Burns American Stories, Season 2 Episode 1 image

Episode 2

Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery

Wed, Nov 5, 1997 120 mins

As the conclusion of Burns' two-part 1997 chronicle of the Lewis and Clark expedition begins, it's the summer of 1805, and the adventurers find themselves exploring "a great blank on the maps of their countrymen." By November, they reach the Pacific and begin their equally arduous return trek. Hal Holbrook narrates. Included are comments by writers Erica Funkhouser, William Least Heat-Moon and Stephen E. Ambrose, historian James P. Ronda, and geographer John Logan Allen. Voices include Adam Arkin (Lewis), Murphy Guyer (Clark), Sam Waterston (Thomas Jefferson) and Matthew Broderick (John Ordway).

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Episode 3

The West: The People

Sun, Sep 15, 1996 90 mins

In Part 1 of the Burns-produced eight-part 1996 chronicle of "The West" (directed by Stephen Ives), paintings, photos and first-person accounts illustrate how life in the West changed after the arrival of whites. Included: native creation legends; the search for the fabled "seven cities of gold," which led Coronado from Mexico to the Great Plains; the Lewis and Clark expedition, which was crucial to the opening of the frontier; the introduction of horses and its effect on Indian life; and uprisings against Spain in the Southwest. Peter Coyote narrates.

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Episode 4

The West: Empire upon the Trails

Mon, Sep 16, 1996 90 mins

Part 2 of the Burns-produced 1996 chronicle of "The West" details how the U.S. completed its Westward expansion by 1848, incorporating Texas, British-held land in the Northwest and Mexican-controlled California. Included: Sam Houston's role in securing Texas statehood; his refusal to aid forces at the Alamo and his victory at the Battle of San Jacinto; how the use of the horse intensified warfare among the Kiowa and Lakota tribes; the ill-fated work of some missionaries along the Oregon Trail. Also: Mormon leader Brigham Young, who led his people across the desert to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Narrator: Peter Coyote.

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Episode 5

The West: The Speck of the Future

Tue, Sep 17, 1996 90 mins

Part 3 of the Burns-produced 1996 chronicle of the West (directed by Stephen Ives) details the 1848 discovery of gold in California and how it transformed the West. In the following year, more than 50,000 settlers ("'49ers") would travel to California in search of riches, including farmer William Swain, whose letters reveal a passion that was shared by the majority of the treasure-seekers and the disappointment that met most of them. Included: frustrated '49ers who turned their anger on nonwhites, often aided by local laws; the truth behind legendary onetime mountain man Kit Carson; the Fort Laramie treaty, which brought a fragile peace to native tribes; and the gold rush's impact on San Francisco. Peter Coyote narrates.

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Episode 6

The West: Death Runs Riot

Tue, Sep 17, 1996 90 mins

Part 4 of the Burns-produced 1996 chronicle of the West details the rising tensions over slavery---and the eruption of violence in the new Kansas and Nebraska territories. As the Civil War began, federal attention focused on the East, so Western battles were often fought by volunteers, such as minister John Chivington, who defended Colorado from a rebel assault and would later be responsible for the savage slaughter of Indians at Sand Creek. Also included: rancher Juan Cortina, "the Robin Hood of the Rio Grande"; how veterans (including George Custer) turned their energy against the Cheyenne. Stephen Ives directed; Peter Coyote narrates.

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Episode 7

The West: The Grandest Enterprise Under God

Thu, Sep 19, 1996 90 mins

Part 5 of the Burns-produced 1996 series "The West" (directed by Stephen Ives) picks up the saga at the end of the Civil War, as work begins on the transcontinental railroad with the goal of uniting the coasts and accelerating settlement of lands west of the Missouri River. Included: how Congress provided loans and millions of acres of land to railroad companies to connect Omaha and Sacramento; the near-extinction of the buffalo. Also: Chinese immigrants' role in tunneling through the Sierra Nevadas; Mormon suffragette Emmeline Wells, who helped Utah's women gain the right to vote; how boisterous cowboys led some towns to hire gunmen such as Wyatt Earp to maintain peace and enforce gun-control laws. Peter Coyote narrates.

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Episode 8

The West: Fight No More Forever

Sun, Sep 22, 1996 90 mins

Part 6 of the Burns-produced 1996 series "The West," recalls the recurrence of Indian-settler hostilities after treaties that preserved the Black Hills for the Lakota were broken. Included: Custer's last stand against the tribe (and its leader, Sitting Bull) in 1876. Also: how the Nez Perce's Chief Joseph led the U.S. Army on a three-month chase covering over 1500 miles, including a stop in Yellowstone National Park. Stephen Ives ("Reporting America at War") directed. Narrator: Peter Coyote.

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Episode 9

The West: The Geography of Hope

Mon, Sep 23, 1996 90 mins

Part 7 of the Burns-produced 1996 history of the West follows the fortunes of settlers who arrived after 1877, when numerous towns started to appear, some in places previously deemed unlivable. Among them were blacks who flocked to Kansas and homesteaders who endured droughts and blizzards in Nebraska. Included: Sitting Bull's role as part of "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Western show; Teddy Roosevelt's early career as a rancher; the political pressures that eliminated polygamy from Mormonism in Utah; and the impact of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Directed by Stephen Ives ("Reporting America at War"); Peter Coyote narrates.

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Episode 10

The West: One Sky Above Us

Tue, Sep 24, 1996 90 mins

The Burns-produced 1996 history of the West concludes as the Wounded Knee massacre leads to the end of organized Native American resistance to Westward expansion, while "land rushes" divide most of the remaining Indian territory into new towns. Included: the Dawes Act, which disrupted Indian communities; the impact of a copper strike on Butte, Mont. Also: the death of Sitting Bull at the hands of his own people; belief in the "ghost dance," which some hoped would restore Indians to prominence; the construction of the Los Angeles aqueduct system; and the popularity of Westerns, which misrepresented history. Stephen Ives ("Reporting America at War" directed. Peter Coyote narrates.

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