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America the Beautiful: From Sea To Shining Sea

Updated on August 16, 2012
The Mayflower Landing
The Mayflower Landing | Source

For two months they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, in search of freedoms and opportunities denied them in the land of their birth. Immigrants all, they were an interesting mix of religious zealots, criminals, adventurists and treasure-seekers. Ordinary people most definitely, they took extraordinary measures to find that which they sought, and in the process gave birth to a new country.

Rebels? I doubt any of them would consider themselves to be a rebel, but seen from the vantage point of time, rebels they indeed were. Adventurers? I doubt that adventure was foremost in their minds as they boarded the 100-ft sailing ships and headed west. The Great Unknown awaited them, and apprehension and fear had to be their companions on that journey. Would they even make it across that great ocean, and if they did, could they survive in an untamed country teeming with mysteries and challenges?

We will never know for sure, but travel they did, and upon arrival they set about the business of surviving. Forests needed to be conquered, villages raised, and businesses established. As time went by, the villages grew, the commerce flourished, but always the eyes looked west, and the imaginations of thousands now wondered about the greatness that could be.

“WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT”

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, a lovely concept, but one that needed to be paid for with blood. It seems that most revolutionary concepts must be paid for dearly, and this one was no exception to the rule.

More forests cleared, more obstacles overcome, pushing west through the Appalachians and spreading the wings of liberty, taking flight towards the Mighty Mississippi. Liberty for all? Depends on your definition of course, but the theory was there, and with time, implementation would happen. Remember, revolutionary concepts must be paid for dearly. Value is not always measured in dollars and cents.

Fur traders navigated the deep and muddy waters, new businesses were established, new wars fought; this new country, founded on shaky ground, was setting permanent roots and the world was taking notice. Nothing could stop the progress of this upstart; or so it seemed. Perhaps the upstart had some old business that needed to be taken care of, some re-defining of those revolutionary concepts.

“IT IS WELL THAT WAR IS SO TERRIBLE”

A true Southern gentleman said those words as he looked out over the battlefield, strewn with the dead and wounded. All families argue, and so it was with this new family, an argument that threatened to divide and slay the upstart forever.

This fight could not be negotiated. There was only one way for it to end, and the cost would be the lives of hundreds of thousands of future explorers, doctors, clerks, and teachers, all descendants of the originals bearers of those sacred words and the sacred trust.

Clean up the battlefields, shake hands and move forward. There was still much country to explore and conquer. Go West young man! The Mississippi is just a geographical feature, never intended to be the physical bars of a jail. Cross that Mighty River and never look back. It’s time to find out what kind of courage you really have. The Great Plains are before you, flat, desolate, forbidding, and inhabited by Indian tribes who have no desire to share with you. Go West and spread the word, that all men are created equal! Go West!

No trees here; no mountains, either, but oh, that grassland! Waving in the constant winds, swaying to a rhythm of time eternal, promising a fresh start for anyone strong and brave enough to try. Push back against the obstructions, natural and human, and keep moving west. Follow those rivers, the Missouri, the Platte, the Red and the Arkansas, and stake a claim for your family. Build more towns, keep the commerce going, it’s our destiny now, the Manifest Destiny, we were meant to conquer and explore.

See the bison! Millions of them, blotting out the sun, roaming the amber waves of grain, holding onto their place, ancient guardians of a land about to change. Symbolic for sure, because there is no room in our plans for the ancient ways. This is all about destiny, folks, and we need to keep pushing west.

But wait! What lies ahead?

The Rocky Mountains; a daunting challenge
The Rocky Mountains; a daunting challenge | Source
Mighty rivers to cross
Mighty rivers to cross | Source

PURPLE MOUNTAIN MAJESTY

Now we’ll test your mettle, boys! Let’s see what you are made of! You thought the Appalachians were mountains? Think again because in front of you stands 300 miles of back breaking, ball busting, widow-making stone. This is your Manifest Destiny, boys, so let’s see if you have what it takes.

Yep, there is gold in them thar hills, and beaver pelts for them fine English gentlemen, but you better want it bad enough. Men like Bridger, Coulter and Smith have led the way, and missionaries to keep them women-folk in a prayin’ mood, but make no mistake about it, this is no land for the weak.

Push west, dammit, and let the chips fall where they will. Fly that flag, fight the good fight, walk across those damn mountains, because this country can’t be held back.

Wagons follow, cattle are hustled to market, and here comes the Iron Horse…make way, bison…make way, Indians….got no time for your bellyaching, this is progress and nothing holds back progress!

Up, over and through those 300 miles, it’s all downhill now, and look what awaits us….the Golden Land!

FROM SHORELINE TO SHORELINE

There she is, boys, the Pacific Ocean, and ain’t she beautiful? Get those towns built and hurry; the damn British and Spanish think they can horn in on what is obviously ours. God wants it and what God wants He gets. Send those ships out; load those trains; bring back more people. We got room! We got lots of room, and any man who can’t make it out west just ain’t much of a man.

Sure there are some deserts here but no problem. Dam up those rivers; get that water working for us cuz’ we have a job to do. Cut down those forests….and those over there….this country needs wood and we aim to please. Fish by the millions; get those nets in the water and let’s haul them in.

Hear that sound? Sawmills are buzzing, smokestacks are huffing, families are growing and Lordy, this is fine land. Don’t forget to bring the Bibles, and the law books, and fly the red, white and blue from every storefront. This is America, and this is our land, and by God you can either love it or leave it! Let the word go forth, from this day forward, that this is America, and we have a collective destiny.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

We can’t go west any longer, so now where do we go? Manifest Destiny, baby, so let’s spread our roots and see if we can’t persuade some others about how great our country and doctrine are.

There seems to be a little resistance but hey, if it’s worth having it’s worth fighting for. Find a way to persuade them because, after all, this is America! We stand for freedom! We stand for equality! It should be obvious to everyone that our way is the best way, so persuade them! There’s no need to always fight; give them some bread and butter and they will see the light. Let them eat from the Golden Tree of Liberty and they will sign right up!

So where do we go from here? Space? Been there, done that, no longer interested! Overseas? Been there, done that, no longer interested! When explorers run out of sites to explore, what can they do? When rebels run out of causes to fight for, what should they do? When adventure and spirit have been diluted by the passage of time, what will WE do?

Over four-hundred years ago they came to these shores, in search of a new life. They carried with them hope….they carried with them courage….they carried with them a vision. They were our ancestors, immigrants all, and their blood flows through our veins. Their legacy is now ours. What will we do with that legacy?

P.S. To the reader: yes, I took liberties with the timeline with regards to the Civil War. It flowed better this way and it was not intended to be a history lesson. Thank you for allowing me some creative leeway.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

What Will Our Legacy Be?

Leaving A Legacy
Leaving A Legacy | Source

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glad to hear it, adevwriting.

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      Arun Dev 2 years ago from United Countries of the World

      Yeah, sure I'll comment! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I much prefer comments, adevwriting. Thank you so much for another visit.

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 2 years ago from United Countries of the World

      It is great to learn about American history from one who lives in America rather than encyclopedias or other sources. Very interesting. Since there is no vote up button, I'll vote up through this comment - Voted up and interesting +1!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, I think BEv and I are being lazy this weekend, unless she made plans and forgot to tell me; we will probably go for a drive in the country later and maybe a picnic. Thank you dear and have a fantastic weekend.

      love,

      bill

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Oh yes Billy what a great hub and you are indeed a great teacher !!!

      What are you and Bev doing this weekend ???

      Dai is in work today as always on Saturday and no visitors are descending(unless I've jinxed it by saying that ha ha!!!)However I have so much hub reading to do so here I go;that should keep me busy for a few hours at least!!!

      lots of love my dear friend.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Keith, it is a fascinating history for sure. We are such a young country but we have accomplished amazing things in a short period of time. I only wish we would learn lessons of the past while we move forward. :) Thank you my young friend; greatly appreciated and no apology necessary.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Au fait....to answer your question, if Manifest Destiny is not on the standardized test then it won't be taught. That is but one reason why I am no longer teaching. I am disgusted by the direction we are taking in education in this country.

      Regarding Africa, if there is value there then we will do everything in our power to conquer it; I read that we are building up military presence there; it may be just a matter of time.

      Thank you for your comment; that is actually what I consider myself to be....a story-teller....with an edge. :)

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      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      I knew I read this before and I forgot to comment! Forgive me on that note, Bill! Now on the matter of the hub, I really appreciate you writing this. Very well thought out and it clearly shows all the sacrifices that were made that made the country the democracy it is today. What if all of this didn't happen? What would we have become? Only history could tell if it was so different.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Very good story for depicting the majority perspective over time as much as anyone can. In my recent history classes it was surprising how few students knew what manifest destiny was. Is history not taught in public school anymore? Since I home schooled my own daughter I really don't know what the curriculum is besides learning how to pass 'the test.'

      Since we're already nation building in the Middle East and 'persuading' people there to our thinking, how long before we tackle the continent of Africa? Does war ever end? Can we kill all of our adversaries without creating more as a result of that method?

      Voted you up, interesting, and awesome. Will share. You're a great story teller.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kelley, quite a condensed history of American, right? I'm glad you enjoyed it; I felt this one was special to me for some reason. Thank you!

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      kelleyward 5 years ago

      Hi Bill! Another fantastic hub. Where are we going from here? It's a little scary and also exciting at the same time. I enjoyed reading this, as usual. Voted up and shared. Kelley

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Spy, I'm glad you enjoyed this little history lesson. Thank you!

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      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Wow! amazing presentation. All detailed and very easy to take in. You're very inspiring sir Bill. Thank you so much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carly, what have I done to deserve so much attention from you today? You would have loved my history classes...never boring! :) Thank you dear!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I wish you wrote the history books I had to read! Especially the ones they let into the Catholic schools. I don't remember feeling like I was on a journey, let alone a wider view of how things were. Great job on this one!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Maggi, thank you; this one was a little different for me and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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      Maggi4me 5 years ago from My mind's eye.

      So intersting billybuc and I now look forward to many more.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, you are very welcome; thank you very much!

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      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Another breath taking hub! Way to go Billy! Thank you for this inspiration to explore this land we love.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Thomas! As I began this I thought it might just be impossible to capture so much in so little space...I'm glad you feel I captured it well. Thank you!

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Bill,

      As I got to the end I thought of Alexander the Great who purportedly wept on the banks of the Indus River as there were no more worlds to conquer. Excellent job my friend...as a lover of history I fully enjoyed this world wind tour of 400 years of nation building. You captured it very well!

      Thomas

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I condensed about four hundred years into 1800 words...that's about as simple as I can make it. LOL Quiz next week so start studying my friend. :) As always, I cherish your visits.

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      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Bill ...UP, useful and INTERESTING! History is one area I made a vow to learn much more about.....another one of those subjects I have too often fluffed off or by-passed........You are certainly the "teacher" to read!!! Thanks! No pop-quizes yet, please!...........

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tammy, what a great comment and share. Thank you; I did not know that but I certainly agree, escaping Puritanical religions most definitely played a big part in why some came here. The courage that these people had is unbelievable to me; we simply don't see this in today's world. It's a major effort to get people to start walking for their health; can you imagine walking the Oregon Trail, or living in the hull of a ship for two months, living in fear each and every day/

      Anyway, thank you for sharing that story. Great comment!

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      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      This was quite the pilgrimage and these predecessors were definately made of something different than what we are today. This brings back memories of an American Literature course that centered on "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" which was a rule book for those who were "chosen" to come to America by Manifest Destiny. Not all of the people on this ship were chosen by God to go to Heaven and the religious leaders needed to control the unchosen.. since they were already guarenteed a free ticket to Hell no matter how devout they were, the leaders thought they may stray from religion. This directive written by Johnathan Edwards and recited during the trip over was meant to scare the crew. The religious implications and judgements of this speech were so harsh that Edward's own wife committed suicide before arriving in America. I think the spirit of making it in the new world was fueled by many of these people trying to escape this harsh religion. This is a very thought provoking and interesting historical hub.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vellur, I'm glad you enjoyed my mini history lesson. Thank you!

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      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      History made very interesting in your hub. Great read. Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, you are very welcome! It was a stretch doing it all in one hub, but I was happy with the way it turned out. Thank you my loyal follower.

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      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      I love it when History is made interesting to me. It was one of those subjects that was middle of the road for me. Had I had something like this I might have gotten more interested in it. Thanks for another great read. Awesome hub!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, it is such a short history but such a magnificent history...I am proud to be an American, but I want us to be as great as we can be.

      Thank you for your share; very true words.

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      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Bill, thank you for causing us to think about the way our country was born and the cost that was involved in giving us the life we enjoy today. The United States isn't perfect and has many challenges, but there is definitely something special about this land where people gave so much of themselves to find new lands and a new way of life.

      "Purple mountain Majesty" is my favorite part of "America The Beautiful" which was written by Katherine Lee Bates. Recently I visited Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, and learned that this beautiful song was written there when Katherine visited and looked out over that awesome landscape.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith! That was actually the point I was trying to make....how great could this country be if we had the intestinal fortitude of our ancestors.

      That's pretty cool about Patrick Henry; now there was someone who wasn't fond of government. :)

      Blessings always

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      God Bless America - The Beautiful!!! It is amazing the great perserverance our ancestors had in seeking out this new frontier from sea to shining sea. If only we could get that motivation back into our hearts and our great country could be even greater! If you have not done so already, go on ancestry.com and see if you can find any relatives. I found one of my great, great, great (forget how many greats) grandfather's name on my father's side written on a log in a ship coming from England back then, and I found on my mother's side, we are related to Patrick Henry. Ha. It is amazing what you can find. Thanks for the excellent hub once again. God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Amy my dear friend, it's always nice to hear what you have to say. Courage for sure....the trip across the ocean...the Oregon Trail...all were unimaginable trips of courage. I'm not sure I have what it would take to do that, so I'll admire them from the distance of history.

      Thank you my dear; sending you a hug from 1500 miles away.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby! I enjoyed writing this one, a challenge and a work of love. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Josh, nicely stated my nephew! It was interesting trying to do this in one hub; I'm glad you liked it and thank you.

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      Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      GREAT article Bill. There is room for all here in our homeland. We have much to be proud of and much to feel ashamed of. The Indian was kind and offered his help to the first Settlers, then greed took over, same actions against the Black people, we needed laborers. I hope when we look back and see what we did as a nation, we will work diligently to honor and welcome all who want to join us. Thank you for sharing.. Enjoyed.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Bill,

      You definitely faced this challenge head on and successfully delivered! This was an awesome hub tribute to the beauty that is this country! Unfortunately what we have is taken advantage of, and thankfulness is hardly present if present at all. So, thanks for delivering this awesome message and hopefully it will attract the eyes of those that need to see it.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      It's hard for me to imagine the conflicted angst involved with leaving everything you know to start over with little concept of what lies ahead. It took great courage, desperation and a giant leap of faith to get on a boat, not even knowing whether you or yours would survive the journey, to land on unknown shores and start anew. Today, by contrast, we are innundated with news from across the globe, even pictures of Mars. And, even at that, leaving what I know would be a fearsome prospect. There is so much we can't know until we experience real life anywhere else. When I was in school ions ago, I didn't think about the humanity behind the journey. The fact that scared, hungry little children were onboard, pregnant women, elderly folks, and always the risk of communicable illnesses on a ship where there was little help by way of the antibiotics or vaccines that we have today.

      Stirring write, Bill, that left me visualizing standing on the shore of an unknown place and what it must have felt like to our ancesters. I can see the teacher in you and it shines!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, interestingly, I hated it in school, but that's because my teachers were terrible. It wasn't until I began teaching that I fell in love with it, and like you, I loved American history.

      Thanks!

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      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      History was one of my favorite subjects in school. In fact, American history was especially compelling. Excellent work!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, I totally agree Rich! Manifest Destiny has been a crock of shit from day one and in many ways it continues today....our greed as a country is the underlying motivator in most of our national and global policies. We aren't butting heads at all on this one; in fact, I used to teach about that very subject and would have parents argue with me about it.

      Thanks buddy; great comment.

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      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill -

      As always, I enjoyed your writing. Extremely well done!

      But, let's flip this album over for a second and listen to side two. I'll agree, in the hearts of the pioneers, the concept of Manifest Destiny was one of hope for a better life. But, wasn't it a selfish one? Many of the Native Americans honored the concept that no one owned the land, but that the kindness of their Gods had provided it for all to take what they needed and only what they needed. The white man, with greed as his partner, claimed ownership of something that wasn't his, divided up this stolen property, and is still cashing in on it. One of the groups that forged ahead early was the hunters (trappers), backed by big business. They were paid to go to virgin territories, and, without regard for nature's gifts, kill needlessly for beaver and buffalo pelts and skin, so the Eastern society could wear their hats of beaver and so on. There are, and always have been the true spirited. But, right alongside, there has been the factor of increasing a bank account, whether it be for individual or personal gain. Like army ants, devouring all in their path, greed of man cast aside human decency and validated it by creating an "honorable" concept. In the idea of back to basics, isn't the Golden Rule the most basic? Manifest Destiny seemed to cast that aside, at least for some.

      Not trying to butt heads here, my friend. Just some thoughts. Have a great afternoon!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great to hear Sha! If I can ever be of any help......you know how to find me

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      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm hangin' in, Bill. Freelancing has picked back up!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, it was different and challenging and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hope you are well my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Audrey! I loved teaching the Civil War when I was roaming the halls of learning.....I appreciate you stopping by.

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      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      History is another passion of mine. I am drawn to the civil war more than most women. I enjoyed this lesson on American History with your billiant presentation. Thank you my friend!

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      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Beautiful, Bill! If this doesn't put the spirit back in America, I don't know what will!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It was different, Mary, but challenging and fun to write. Thank you my friend!

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      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Your "creative leeway" led us on a historical cross-country trip! "The Great Unknown" awaited our ancestors and in many ways it awaits us. Theirs was to traverse this new land, ours is to keep it solvent and keep it free.

      Another great hub Bill, different yet inspiring.

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joseph, as always, thank you! I would have loved to have lived during those days of exploration. I can easily see myself on the Oregon Trail leading a wagon across the new country. Great adventure!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shruti, thank you! It was an interesting challenge to condense so much in such a short piece. I'm glad you liked it.

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      shruti sheshadri 5 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Bill, the passion I find in your writing is admirable! I am sure you would have made a good leader, If u were present during that time, i am sure they would have discovered a lot more! So is the command in your voice :)

      Completely enjoyable and a totally different take ! :)

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      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Extraordinary Journey! Oh Billy, felt as though we were there next to Lewis and Clark back in 1803. Those Bisons made up for the boldness and cold resistant desire to reach to the corners of freedom. Truly enjoyed this tidbits of history. Gotta check Daniel Boone' story now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mark! I'm glad you found it interesting, and I always appreciate you.

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      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      An awesome overview of the "American History." More interesting is the question raised, "What will our Legacy be"?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, that was the challenge; I'm very happy that you think I met that challenge. Thank you!

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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Amazing how you've managed to present generations of history without leaving out details in the space of one hub....and did it so dramatically!

      History's one of my fave subjects, and I've enjoyed this little lesson on American history. Votes up and away.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! It was a personal challenge to see if I could fit it all into one hub. I appreciate you daily.

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      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      Your writing never ceases to amaze me Bill. you very beautifully laid out the journey of so many of our previous ancestors as they made that long, hard journey out westward bound. I very much enjoyed reading your take on this in your own words and the very real picture you indeed paint here. Have of course voted up much and shared too!!