By 1848 the United States had -- through negotiations, border skirmishes, full-blown war, and an intimidating belief in Manifest Destiny -- seized the West and became a continental nation, at least on paper. Then the word came that men in California had discovered gold. The Speck of the Future, Episode Three in director Stephen Ives's nine-part epic, covers the years from 1848 to 1856, when the American West quickly became the world's destination spot. Under greed's intoxicating influence, everyone from Chinese peasants and Mexican laborers to Latin American aristocrats and New York's boy next door fled westward and established a new kind of American community -- based on exploitation as much as mutual need. Ives has gathered archival photos, diaries, letters, and interviews with expert scholars to explore the myriad ways in which the Gold Rush forever altered the course of our history.
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