Dan Snow's History Hit

James Beckwourth, Conquering the American Frontier

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Episode notes

James Beckwourth was a pioneering frontiersman and fur-trapper who conquered the American West by embedding himself in the Native American tribes who called it home. Although Beckwourth wasn’t a runaway slave, he'd been born into slavery in the Deep South at the turn of the 19th century. As a young man, he was enticed by the freedom of the wilderness, after being emancipated by his owner and own father- a white Virginian planter. Beckwourth made his way west to the gold-dappled state of California and in doing so traversed the formidable Sierra Nevada mountains, carving a route for future gold-rush prospectors, thanks to the knowledge and understanding of the landscape he learnt from running with a band of Crow Nation American Indians. He hunted wild animals, searched for gold, got embroiled in inter-tribe warfare and travelled through many of America's states looking for adventure, telling great tales about the things he experienced.

Dan is joined by historian Ann Manheimer who, like Beckwourth himself, weaves a gripping yarn about the life of this frontiersman. She is the author of 'James Beckwourth: Legendary Mountain Man'.

Produced by Mariana Des Forges, sound design and editing by Dougal Patmore.