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The Chosen People (Myths and legends)

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Rachel Heller

on 30 September 2017

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Transcript of The Chosen People (Myths and legends)

Paradise at the end of the East
Utopia
1492
Europe: Renaissance
Utopia (1516)
Ideal society in an ideal country
The "New Founde Land"
Land of
hope
promise
endless possibilities
justice
equality
The first American myth
An Earthly Paradise
America's cultural identity:
Puritans
A "mission from God"
The new Adam --> a strong, just, religious man
The new Garden of Eden
The chosen people
fulfilling God's Providence
16th and 17th centuries
Journals, memoirs, histories
guidelines
Providential Record
George Washington = Joshua
America = Canaan
setting the example
Andrew Burnaby
1760: "Everyone is looking forward with eager and impatient expectation to that destined moment when America is to give law to the rest of the world."
The second American myth:
Manifest Destiny
The Frontier
"The West"
Closed in 1860
Frontier = meeting point between savagery and civilization
The third American myth:
free land
equality
democracy
strong, brave, ambitious
The fourth American myth:
The Virgin Land
Nature = source of spiritual goodness
Western agrarian utopia
The Myth of the Garden
Transforming the American wilderness into a "garden"
19th century American symbols:
1. the frontiersman
2. the pioneer
3. the farmer
4. the cowboy

The farmer
middle region
symbol of democracy
contact with nature: virtuous, happy
hard-working, ambitious survivor
social status
independent
establishes civilization
settler: pioneer --> farmer
The Pioneer
pathfinders
moving civilization forward
followed the trappers, explorers
standard-bearers of civilization
The Frontiersman
tamed the wilderness
friendships with Native Americans
often fugitives from society, isolated heroes
part savage, part civilized
independent, fearless, living in close contact with nature
free spirits
romanticised
example for the rest of society
Daniel Boone
Frontiersman
crossed the Appalachian Mountains
fought Native Americans in the American Revolution in KY

Daniel Boone
(1734-1820)

Davy Crockett
(1786-1836)
Frontiersman
Killed at the Alamo
Politician
Soldier
Tennessee
Davy Crockett
William Cody (1846-1917)
a.k.a. Buffalo Bill

Frontiersman
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
Entertainer: 1870s
Pony Express
Bison hunter for Kansas Pacific Railroad
The Cowboy (as we know him)
First appeared in dime novels (late 1880s)
Gunmen fighting outlaws and Indians
The fictional cowboy
drifter
little attention to cattle
unique dialect
more action than talk
one with nature
gallant to women
hero: symbol of justice
ultimate freedom
Good and Bad
Violence is caused by evil
Cowboy = gunfighter
Gunfight/shoot-out
Good always triumphs over evil
Moral system based on extremes
The villain will be defeated by the hero
The Real Cowboy
1st cowboys: Indian slaves in Mexico
lariat, bow and arrow
Clothes:
leather chaps
sombreros
Spanish spurs
narrow trousers
high-heeled boots
neckerchief
were taught to ride horses
1750 on
Origins of the American cowboy
1821 on (Mexican Revolution)
177 acres for farming, 4428 for grazing
Civil War (1861-1865)
unbranded stray cattle and horses
Texas longhorns and American mustangs
1866
Texas --> northern railheads
growing population in the big cities
Cattle Drives
Chisholm Trail
3000 longhorns/drive
1 trail boss
9 men
1 cook
60 horses
A cowboy's life
lonely
fortitude and endurance
little romance, hard work
danger (stampedes, blizzards, cold, disease)
A cowboy's life
Food: corn mush, dried bacon, beans, coffee, biscuits, wild game, "sour mash"
Knife, gun, rope, lasso
Chinese, Black, Mexican and Indian
Cow Towns
Abilene, Dodge City
Hotels, saloons, brothels (segregated)
lawmen (sheriff)

era of great drives ended in 1886
Universal appeal of the cowboy
1866-1886
confirmed American myths
vast setting, timelessness
youth, adventure
strength, fearlessness, independence, freedom
American characteristics
chosen people
Individualists
Setting the example for others to follow
Acquisitive
geographically mobile
solid ideals (Constitution)
built society from scratch
Ambitious
No evil is without remedy
Optimists
Some famous/notorious people
a.k.a. anti-heroes

Billy the Kid (1859-1881)
a.k.a. William Bonney
a.k.a. William Wright
US outlaw
first murder: age 12
age 18: 22 people killed
shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett
The Dalton Gang
US Marshall Frank Dalton
and his brothers
Lawmen --> gunmen
shot while robbing a bank 1892

James Butler Hickok
a.k.a. Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876)

Frontiersman
US Marshall in Kansas

Shot in the back while playing cards in Deadwood, SD
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
Calamity Jane (1848-1903)
a.k.a. Martha Jane Canary

living legend
Missouri
drinking, shooting, riding, driving a mule team, cursing
rode with Wild Bill Hickock
a.k.a. "Little sure shot"
Married Frank Butler: celebrated marksman
Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show
Annie Oakley (1860-1926)
a.k.a. Phoebe Anne Oakley Mozee
Wyatt Earp (1848-1929)
US Marshall
Dodge City
Battle of OK Corral (Tombstone 1881)

Judge Roy Bean (1825-1903)
Justice of the Peace from 1882 on
Judge + barman
The "hanging judge"
"The only law west of the Pecos"
Langtry, Texas
Jesse James (1847-1882)
"America's Robin Hood"
Frank and Jesse James
Missouri
killers and thieves by age 15
"invented" train and bank robbery
Butch Cassidy (1869-1908?)
The Sundance Kid (Harry Longbaugh)
Robbed trains in Wyoming
Disappeared --> Bolivia?

The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang
a.k.a. The Wild Bunch
American Studies
What makes an American?
American Myths and Legend
Full transcript