Gunslingers, robberies and boom and bust economics, it can only be episode two of Robert Redford's The West. Redford and HISTORY's exploration into the Wild West continued this week with all the charm, interest and commotion you'd expect from a dinner date with Redford himself. At this point in the story, America continues to face problems with deep unrest in the South and a mounting war with the Plains Indians.
What Went Down in episode two?
This week, rather than continue a costly war with the Sioux Indians, newly elected President Ulysses S. Grant decides to uphold a peace policy with the Sioux.
Now with these quelled tensions in the West, Thomas Durant and the Union Pacific are able to complete the country’s first Transcontinental Railroad, opening the floodgates for America’s Western settlers.
But the railroad boom also provides outlaw Jesse James with a new target, and the Southern newspapers seize on James’s train robbery exploits, turning him into a Southern hero.
To combat this Union spymaster Allan Pinkerton is brought in to pursue James and his gang, will the outlaw finally be brought to justice?
The episode ends with the collapse of the America’s railroad boom. President Grant’s hopes to repair the nation by expanding in the West are faltering.
BEST DID YOU KNOW MOMENT
Jesse James was championed by the Southern press. "It's impossible to talk about Jesse James without talking about John Newman Edwards," historian David Eisenbach tells the programme, "he really just became James' publicist." Edwards, the founder of the Kansas City Times, created the myth of James as a rebel who was targeting the establishment, justifying his criminal acts. Thanks to the favourable press James was no longer seen as criminal but as a hero for the Confederacy.
Each week we'll be digging deeper into one of the characters in the show. In episode two we learned more on Jesse James, the revengeful former Confederate. He began robbing trains, made a pact with the media and his notoriety grew. The biography below goes into more detail behind this outlaw of the American West. What formed him? Where was he brought up? And did you know he had kids?
Which Wild West Legend are you?
This week we asked you Which West Wild Legend Are You? Nick below got Billy The Kid. Well done Nick, I imagine you are full of youth and energy! Did you know that Billy The Kid at the age of 21? Find out which character you are here.
Thanks for getting in touch again this week. Don't miss the next episode, Tuesdays at 9pm, only on HISTORY.