America: The Story of US
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Rebels - This is the story of how, over seven generations, a group of European settlers survive against all odds, claw themselves up and then turn against their colonial masters. A diverse group of men, women and children are about to become truly American.
Revolution - 4 July, 1776. The Declaration of Independence is read to crowds in New York. Offshore, more than 400 ships bristling with soldiers and guns are massing. It is the largest British invasion force until D-Day. America’s 13 colonies have taken on the might of the world’s leading superpower. Within months, George Washington’s army has been decimated and defeat seems inevitable. Yet by 1783, America is free.
Westward - As the American nation is born, a vast continent lies to the west of the mountains, waiting to be explored and exploited. Yet this land is not empty - Native-Americans are spread across the land mass, as are Spanish colonists and French explorers. For the pioneers who set out to confront these lands, following trailblazers like Daniel Boone, the conquest of the West is a story of hardship that forges the character of America.
Division - America becomes a nation at the moment a revolution in commerce and industry sweeps across the western world. The construction of the Erie Canal - an audacious feat of engineering achieved against the odds with black-powder and hard work - results in hundreds of workmen being killed, but the pay-off is immense. This vast new country, rich in resources, experiences a rapid change in trade, transport and manufacturing, which quickly turns America into one of the wealthiest nations on earth.
Civil War - The Civil War rages. The terrible new technology of the minie ball is devastating Union and Confederate forces alike. It is 20th century technology meeting 18th century tactics and the result is a death toll never before seen on American soil.
Heartland - In 1869, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of America, more than 2,000 miles apart, are linked by continuous metal rails. The Transcontinental Railroad, the world's first, is one of the most ambitious human enterprises since the Great Wall of China, and much of it is built by Chinese labourers.
Cities - Between 1880 and 1930, nearly 24 million new immigrants arrive in America. Many go to work building a new frontier: the modern city, one of America's greatest inventions. The high cost of land in cities like New York and Chicago means the only way to build is up. A new kind of building, the sky scraper, is made possible by steel. Produced on a massive scale by Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie, steel production underpins the infrastructure of the modern city.
Boom - In 1910 in California, a column of oil nearly 200 feet high explodes out of a derrick and sets off a chain of events that will turn America into a superpower. Oil production doubles overnight and prices plummet from $2 to 3 cents a barrel. Quick to capitalise on this abundant cheap fuel is Henry Ford, a maverick entrepreneur who vows to bring the motor car to the masses. In 1900, there are 8,000 cars in the country. By 1930, there are over 20 million.
Bust - In October 1929, the economic boom of the 1920s ends with a crash on Wall Street. Between 1929 and 1932, $2 billion in deposits evaporate. The American Dream has become a nightmare. The stock market crash coincides with and is the central catalyst in the start of the Great Depression. Unemployment rises to more than one-fourth of the workforce and as confidence in US banks disintegrates, bank closures sweep the nation.
WWII - It is 1939, while war breaks out in Europe, America remains mired in a 10 year Depression. With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, America is brought into another world war, changing the nation from an isolationist continent to a global player, and ensuring economic prosperity once more.
Superpower - World War II transforms America into a global superpower. Fueled by technology, the economy booms, and a new age of consumerism is born. More than 20,000 cars roll off production lines daily. Interstate highways connect the country, just as the transcontinental railroad had done more than a century before. After defending their country and their ideals, the Greatest Generation comes home. Like the pioneers before them, they transform virgin territory, plowing up more than a million acres of land each year to build new suburbs.
Millennium - America booms in both population and prosperity. The "baby boomers" become the next generation to reinvent the country. Powerful new technologies sweep the nation. Television brings the world into Americans' living rooms, changing lives and values in unexpected ways. This revolution is not only about entertainment. Just as newspapers helped define America's identity during the Revolution and sense of self during the Civil War, television captures and influences a distant war in Vietnam, shaping Americans' response to their changing society.