tv Legends Lies The Real West FOX News May 9, 2015 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
from deadly storms. tornado watches and warnings remain in effect tonight. and stay with fox for the updates. bill o'riley's legends and lies start right now. happy mother's day. news is the first draft of history. it is immediate and takes place in realtime. legends take longer to develop and are sometimes based on myth. this fox news series looks at the truth behind the legend. ♪
♪ on the north american plains, opportunity calls men of courage to chase the sun west into a new frontier. they would shape the nation and they hold their destiny and earth and mythology. but with the passing of time, every myth has its reckoning. christopher "kit" carson, trail blazing scalp thrives in this untamed land. kit's commitment to friend and country drives him forward but
often leaves a trail of blood behind. [ gunfire ] >> those familiar with the legend of kit carson know him as a mountain man and western explorer and also a blood tli thrifty killer. he values duty overall else, even when that duty conflicts with his own morals. >> every summer, he joins his fellowmen at a rendezvous. it's a break from the isolation of trapping and a chance to replenish supplies. these giant ren day views, which were essentially trade commissions but also giant parties where a lot of booze was
consumed. >> hey, he started it, all right. >> there was swapping of women, marriages took place with indian swabs, as they were called. >> it's at one of these meetings where he rescues a young arapaho indian from an attack. her name was singing grass and the two were eventually married. >> this was the happiest time of his life. he learned their ways, he learned their language. he had found where he wanted to be. >> christopher "kit" carson is born into a world of western migration. on christmas eve 1809, the same year as abraham lincoln. >> in the early 1800s, occupied by native people and european powers whose presence blocks american expansion.
populating this territory and overwhelming these groups becomes a national priority. >> the carsons land in boone, missouri, home of the daniel boone clan. >> his family was good friends with the boone family. these were back woodsmen, rough and ready folks in search of opportunity. >> for his first few years, kit is confined to life inside cooper's fort, an armed camp. [ gunfire ] >> four years later, his father dies in a land clearing fire. kit leaves school. >> he totally disliked making
saddles. there were a lot of stories about the frontier that would fascinate anybody. >> at 16, young kit heads west and living by his wits turns a boy's adventure into a man's livelihood. >> there probably was not a more dangerous profession in america at that time than being a mountain man. there was the danger of grizzly bears, hypothermia, starvation. these men went into trackless wilderness for months at a time, all in pursuit of beaver pellets. >> kit becomes an expert trapper and lives by a code rooted in tribal warrior culture. >> kit carson lived true to the code of ethics that is hard for
us to understand it was a very different time. a very violent time. he was very, very loyal to his friends. he was ferocious to his enemies. >> in the old testament, it's an eye for an eye. on the frontier, it's coming true. [ screaming ] >> counting coo was between the mountain men and the native americans. you had to recipient in kind and with greater voracity. this was a way of life for kit carson. >> in 1840, after giving birth to their second daughter, singing grass dies from
complications. without her mother, the baby dies soon after. adding to kit's pain, decades of overtrapping has destroyed the beaver population. >> every summer throughout the 1840s, there were fewer and fewer beaver pellets and this was a consequence of just how amazingly good these guys were and what they did. >> we trapped down the river but found no beaver. country looks baron. became necessary to try our hand at something else. >> some mountain men head north. others go west while the worst resort to crime. carson takes to hunting for a local outpost but a dollar a day is hardly enough for him and his surviving daughter adeline.
the west he once knew has changed. with greater upheaval on the horizon, when james pope becomes president. >> i shall assert the right that that portion of our territory, which lies beyond the rocky mountains. >> the president had a vision of what america should look like. he wanted all of it and he vowed that he would get it all either by purchasing or by war within one term. >> president polk's agenda is controversial but well-received by business interests both north and south. >> this is the execution of president jefferson's concept that america is destined to spread from coast to coast. it's a big idea and for those doing it, a dangerous one. 50 years later, it will earn the
political term manifest destiny. >> this was probably the most detrimental thing to happen to the native americans, this idea that america belonged to westerners, people coming in and settling. >> it makes sense that it would start an all-out war. >> at odds with this changing world, kit carson brings 4-year-old adeline back to missouri. being illiterate, he's determined to give her the education he never received. >> i've got to go away, adeline. i'm going to leave you here with our family. i'm going to teach you how to read and how to write. i'll be back, though. you take care of yourself, all right? >> the world has no need of carson's trapping skills. he's in a fight for survival that will take him through the that will take him through the darkest time in do you suffer from constipation or irregularity?
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the vast lands of the western frontiers. in the rockies, where moun deb men once thrived, kit carson is fading away. he left his daughter with his family, protecting her from the struggle that lays ahead. but on his return trip from the mississippi, his prospects changed. >> how far you taking her? >> i'm leading an expedition through the rocky mountains. >> you ever been to the mountains, sir? it's far peace. probably take you where you want to go. >> i'm john c. fremont. >> kit carson. >> john fremont, a lieutenant in the army, has been charged with leading an exploration party through the west. he instructs carson to round up
a team of veteran mountain men and native scouts to guide the way. >> carson and fremont were kind of an odd couple from the start. fremont is quite we hll educate. carson, on the other hand, has a dry sense of humor, he's always giving someone else the credit. >> with carson's help, fremont makes a wagon route through the northern rockies. >> they became natural scouts and the government would go to them just to know what was out there. they were walking atlases of the united states at that point. >> you're all i have. >> by may 1846, fremont and
carson have become national folk heroes. after two successful expeditions to blaze the oregon trail. >> they were the first people to figure out where they could forge rivers, what was the safest routes so you didn't have to climb mountains and they led all of the mountaineers. >> the path finder and kit carson was his trustee scout. >> john fremont is a darling but the truth path finder is kit carson. today they fueled the western expansion but soon their mission to map the western territories will take on an even greater significance. >> on their third outing, an unexpected dispatch arrives from the white house. >> it's from president polk and
secretary of war. >> california. it says we are to continue our fine work in the west. >> president polk is determined to push america's western border all the way to the pacific by wrestling california from mexico. to the lieutenant's sheer joy, his exploratory mission has just become a military one. >> fremont was essentially an opportunist and someone who saw great glory for himself and wanted ultimately to be the kind of liberator of california. >> he spent hours rereading the dispatch from the presidentnd forgets to post a guard on the camp perimeter.
when it did come out, it was vengeful. >> in retaliation, carson and these men go on the warpath and they find a calamath village not far away that they completely destroy and it's truly a massacre. it's kind of overkill in retaliation for the original violence. >> did you get youre? >> we gave them something to remember. >> just days after the clamath incident, the united states declares war on mexico. navy warships close in on the mexico coast and army troops advance from the east.
in california, fremont and carson capture [ inaudible ]. carson travels to washington to deliver the good news to president polk, a trip that include as special stop. carson is a newlywed, marrying josefa jaramillo in between expeditions. he's seen her only a few months in between. but just as he is nearing home, duty redirects his path. >> leading first united states over land from santa fe that helped finish the conquest of california. >> we're going back to the west coast. >> he ordered me to join him as his guide. believed he had the right to order me. >> kit leads the troops back to california only to discover that mexico has retaken every city in
the state except san diego. carney orders an attack but the americans are outnumbered. the waning force becomes trapped on a hill with no cover. >> don't take a shot unless you've got it. >> and dwindling supplies. >> it's a desperate situation. they run out of food. the only thing they have to eat are the mules and the only reinforcements are about 30 miles away in san diego. >> carney's last hope is to send a messenger on foot to sneak through enemy lines. >> carson! >> we need supplies. >> without hesitation, kit carson, once again, follows orders that will change the course of history. if you're running a business, legalzoom has your back.
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fremo fremont's published journals have made their way to mexico. kit could now spoil his victory. bound by duty, carson, lieutenant beele are attempting to get help from the marines in san diego. 30 miles away. >> we need to get barefoot. >> had to crawl about two miles. having had the misfortune to lose our shoes, we had to travel
barefooted in a country covered with prickly pear and rocks. >> just before dawn, the men split up to avoid detection and then for 12 more miles go through 28 miles of unforgiving territory without food or water. >> i need to speak with the commander of this outpost immediately. >> this daring mission becomes known as the san diego. it cements kit carson as one of the toughest men but what is often overlooked is that kit carson is not the first to reach the outpost. he's the last of the three because carson chooses the most difficult route, a tactical move that increases the team's chances should his fellow soldiers get killed or captured.
>> within hours, 100 marines rushed to mule hill and the mexican army retreats. a year later, the u.s. wins the mexican-american war and triples in size stretching from the atlantic to the pacific. largely due to polk's political ten nasty and kit carson's efforts on the ground, manifest destiny is fully realized. after riding over land to st. louis, carson catches the train for washington to deliver fremont's field reports to the president. ♪ >> washington, d.c., at the time of kit carson's arrival was becoming much more sophisticated and just imagine, this man had
been living most of his life out on the frontier, has got to come back to this society. he had to be very uncomfortable. >> off the trail, kit is a shy and unassuming man, content to keep to himself. in washington, his celebrity is overwhelming. >> there had been all of these blood and thunder books that depicted kit carson as this giant who killed two indians before breakfast and was a caricature. >> when you're made into a legendary figure in your own time, there's no way you'll ever be able to reach the top of that pedestal. it's unbearable. >> after two awkward weeks in the capitol, he gets his audience with president polk.
>> mr. carson, welcome, sir. you helped carry out the great work of this country. not many men could do what you did. >> i'm not sure since i got here to washington i've done half of what most people say i have. >> the president asks carson to stay on as transcontinental courier. >> these letters need to make it to california safely. >> i'll do that, mr. president. >> his loyalty has him crossing the country for two years while his old friend, john fremont, continues to settle the west. after completing his service, carson finally returns home to his wife josefa and builds one of the first cowboy ranches with mountain man lucian maxwell.
>> mr. maxwell and i concluded we have been leading a roving life forever and now was the time to make a home for ourselves and our children. >> santa fe trail, a woman and child are both missing. could you help us? >> once again, duty calls. >> come on. >> come on. >> and kit carson♪ [music] jackie's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today her doctor has her on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. you can call mbut,allow... i have a wandering eye. i mean, come on.
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woman named ann white and her infant daughter. >> the white family got separated from the wagon train they were in. they were attacked by native americans and they were massacred except for mrs. white and her child. >> but carson is an expert scout. kit would look for imprints in the dirt, cinders from camp fires. >> the form tif experience for kit carson was when he worked as a mountain man. his ability to track animals became an important asset in his ability to track human beings. >> kit carson may be illiterate but if there is a story to be
>> she's still warm. couldn't have been dead more than five minutes. >> we found a book in camp in which i was represented as a great hero. slaying indians by the hundred. knowing that i live nearby, must have prayed for my appearance in order that she might be saved. >> that's a lot of pressure when you can't do magic and they are telling people that you're a magic man. carson is very confident that
he's a good leader but he's not the superman that the novels made them out to be. >> mrs. white's infant is never found and the incident haunts carson to the end of his days. as the indian wars drag on, atrocities mount on both sides. kit often holds gathering in his home to help strengthen fractured relations. fluent in several languages, including tribal sign, he's later appointed a federal indian agent for the utes. >> the utes were a special tribe to kit carson. he absolutely loved them. he rode with them, hunted with them, he knew them quite well. >> in 1858, carson's world erupts in chaos when gold is
discovered in nearby colorado. within months, 100,000 prospectors invade the region and in their zeal to strike it rich start blasting their way through ancient hunting grounds. at the same time, the debate over extending slavery in the western territories also intensifies. >> something tells me these boys aren't going to like this too much. >> and the issue of race stretch stretches from new mexico. and then in 1861, life changes dramatically when the argument becomes a national war. >> the war is over. >> who you think you are? >> throughout the west, passions run high and neighbors are forced to choose sides.
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the civil war as begun and the western territories are caught up in the struggle. kit carson joins the yankee fight. as colonel of the first new mexico volunteers and helps fend off the texas confederates. with the rebel threat largely contained, commanding officer general james carlton decides to go after them while the union army was preoccupied. >> these navajo savages, they are far past the point of talking to. they need to be whipped and they need to fear us.
>> carleton believed the indians, particularly the navajos, had to be put on a reservation, essentially turn them into farmers, educate their kids, bring them into american civilization. >> the general selects a parcel of land in southeast new mexico called round forest for his grand experiment. if the navajos refused to move, carson is to kill them on site. >> can you handle that? >> to take people from the land that they know and to put them in a land that they don't know is disastrous to the way that people live. they are not able to hunt the same kind of game that they usually hunt, they are not able to cultivate the same food. a lot of people died once put on
reservations. >> carson is in a real predicament here. to refuse a commanding officer is insubordination and carson always follows orders. yet to carry out these atrocities would violate his sense of decency. this is a classic question for soldiers historically and still today, when must a soldier disobey a command because it's unjust? >> carson actually tried to resign at one point. he said, i joined the union army to fight texans in the civil war, not indians. but carleton had other ideas for him. >> in the end, carson agrees to head up the campaign. for kit, it's the lessor of two evils. >> it is going to happen so it's better me than someone who doesn't care. and i can handle it in a way to maybe minimize suffering.
>> kit carson might have had that type of an attitude towards this. >> i want you over here. >> instead of taking up arms ta with the with the navajo, carson attempts to starve them out.tt >> carson realized that he could not fight the navajo in conventional terms. instead he had to fight their land. he essentially had to destroy every cornfield, kill every horse, every sheep, evevery cow. he had to perform this campaign --th this was the only way he realized he could bring the navajo nation to their knees. >> the merciless campaign drags on for months. what follows is one of the darkest events in american history. n be to breathe with copd? it can feel like this.
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other native removables because it was a hard journey full of danger. >> in all, 9,000 malnourished and sick men, women and children are forced to leave their homes and march 300 miles in the bitter cold. nearly 500 died during the trip and many more perished once they arrived. to this day, the navajo have never forgiven kit carson. perhaps as a form of protest, kit refuses to participate in the long walk. but it's not enough to ease his guilt.
>> carson had a lot of regret at the end of all this. the experiment was a failure. and carson realized he had a lot of blood on his hands. >> in the twilight of his days, with failing health, kit goes back to washington to help negotiate a major treaty. >> if he could contribute to the preservation of those who on some level he had a hand in destroying, this could free him of the guilt of what he did. >> carson succeeds in securing a large reservation for the utes on their ancestral land.
then the soldier returns home. >> carson had this aneurysm on his aorta which could burst at any moment. so he had to live his last days very carefully. >> in a remote cabin, carson spends weeks on a liquid diet and finally grows sick of it. >> bring me something i can damn eat. >> near the very end, he realized he was hungry and he wanted a buffalo steak and he wanted to smoke his pipe like in those days as a trapper. he was never so happy as he was when he was a mountain man. ♪
>> doc, adios. >> kit carson dies as he lived, with humor and humility, loyal and selfless to a fault, choosing his duty before personal honor. he's buried in new mexico alongside his beloved josepha who dies the month before after giving birth that their sixth child. >> kit carson is one of the most complex characters in american history. his legend as a blood-thirsty killer created by the novels of his time does not tell the whole truth. his epic adventures in war and exploration embodied the american spirit with national conscience and global identity.
the good and the bad that come with the great conquest of the american west are summed up in carson's smile, the legend of the real west. hello and welcome to "justice." i'm judge jeanine pirro. thanks for being with us tonight. free speech in america is nonnegotiatable. no matter what the perceived consequences, no matter the worry about retribution from islamic extremists, period, end of the story. a primer, the first amendment wasn't established to protect speech that everyone agrees with. the whole point is to protect even hate speech. speech that offends, speech that insults. even that liberal icon of the supreme court, justice william brennan, wrote, government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because