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Video transcript

I'm Walter Isaacson to the Aspen Institute i'm here with bestselling author Cokie Roberts and we're talking about the women in early America after the Revolution the expansion of America begins what is the role of women then well of course women were playing very hard rolls in many cases because they were pioneers and having to move west under difficult circumstances but one of the things that happened with the expansion was that the United States acquired Louisiana and thereby met a group of remarkable women who were already here the Earth's line nuns had come to New Orleans in 1727 they had been sent by the bishop to open military hospitals for the French colonialists in in Louisiana and they immediately saw the need around them to do more than that so they started a free school for girls they took in in that period that early in the century they took in free blacks and Native Americans they started to take care of these women called the field to Cosette who were sent over to be wives to the Frenchman now this is a situation just rife with abuse by the way field to Cosette explain in English that means that they have little cassettes little baskets they came over with basket baskets that they were sent on the boat with that which was all their worldly possessions and they'd get off the boat and they apparently were sent below so they get off so pale the people thought they were ghosts and there they were you know in a situation where any man could grab them and they had no ability to protect them so they are so a nun and so the nuns started protecting them and making sure the men paid attention and all that so once again we see women helping create a social safety net social services and they also though there was one woman in particular in this expansion West who was very instrumental in helping map it and that was Sacagawea I'm not sure how to pronounce it because I don't speak Mandan but she was a young indian girl when Lewis and Clark got the assignment from Thomas Jefferson to go find out what was in this territory that that the United States had just purchased and they met up with her and what would now be North Dakota and she was 15 years old and she was married to this total near do well Frenchman she had a baby they waited and helped deliver the baby and then with a brand-new baby off she sets with them to go west and try to map the territory and she's a teenage kid with a brand-new baby but she's the person who really knows the territory and she also knows how to forage for food and teach them how to do it and what's so wonderful Walters their journals become so admiring of her as time progresses and of course they kept wonderful journals and so at first they just think well isn't she nice you know but then they say she's the one who who found the food she's the one who found the route she's the one who was brave through the boats all getting smashed you know and then they finally get out to Wyoming Montana and and she had been kidnapped as a child from one Indian tribe and there was her brother who was the chief of the tribe and that protected for so it was a very moving scene but secondly that protected them and so then they started putting her out front every place they went and and the combination of the fact that she was a woman and a native meant that they were protected by her and then finally they get to finally they get to the west coast and the men go out to actually see the ocean and she was left behind and she was furious and she said this isn't fair I've taken this whole trip with you and and they said you're right and so she went and saw the ocean and then she really got them back and and Clark raised her child I I think actually that they were in love with each other but she was the person who really knew had him how to find the way and how to keep everybody alive and they came to admire her greatly and felt that she was not adequately compensated for what she had done so she becomes a great symbol of pioneering women right but also the multicultural that's friend in American life well of course the Louisiana Purchase really was the beginning of multiculturalism in America because of course new audience was a French and Spanish city and saint louis was a french city and then a german city so you started to have from what was primarily english and some degree dutch and Huguenot east coast moving west and absorbing all of these other cultures and that was really the beginning of it was our hometown of new audience and of course Native Americans like Sacagawea thank you very much cookie