Americans have been hungry for the West since restless souls dreamed of taking off over the Appalachians, armed with only a rifle and compass. They’re known as pioneers and went to war with a faraway king, partly for the freedom to feed that hunger, an insatiable, violent appetite that would later be glorified as Manifest Destiny. “The American people,” wrote French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835, “sees itself advance across the wilderness, draining swamps, straightening rivers, peopling the solitude, and subduing nature.” Just over a decade after that observation, it appeared that gold flowed through the West’s veins. Rivers bled, mountains leveled, and native peoples were exterminated. Setting foot on the rich soil could turn a poor man into a king. The women and children would be summoned when the time was right.
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