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The 1870s began during an era of great change in the American West. The country was barely five years out of the Civil War and sentiments over its outcome were still like open wounds on the national psyche.


As 1870 opened, Ulysses S. Grant was serving his second year in the White House. During Reconstruction, the year would finally see the last former Confederate state rejoin the Union.


In the east, the Brooklyn Bridge was about to begin construction, and John D. Rockerfeller would incorporate Standard Oil. Under the 15th Amendment, African Americans would be granted the right to vote.


Dotted with frontier towns, mining camps and outposts, the western states and territories were largely lawless. Great herds of buffalo roamed the plains freely. Indian attacks upon white settlers were still common. Distances in the West were measured not just in hundreds, but in thousands of miles. But the first intercontinental railroad had just been established in 1869, and the country was about to open quickly to unbridled western expansion.


Bret and Bart Maverick were still wandered the West in search of the elusive Tall Man that could clear their names of murder charges in their home state of Texas.[1] As they roamed, their careers as wayward gamblers were just beginning.


01. Maverick, Trail West to Fury (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.

02. Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (retrieved 3/3/2014), Library of Congress


"The Great West" (1870), Currier & Ives [2]


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