Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review of "Bonanza: The Spanish Grant"

Review of

Bonanza: The Spanish Grant, DVD version

Five out of five stars

 The theme of this episode is what happens when two rights collide. Many families have homesteaded on their land next to the Ponderosa, doing precisely what the law required and building functional farms with their sweat and blood. However, that area was taken over by the Spanish centuries earlier and the Spanish king had given subjects land grants in perpetuity. An heir of the person given the land by the earlier Spanish king has appeared and is claiming the land. A man claiming to be her uncle is with her and he has hired a group of gunmen to enforce her claim and evict the settlers. She is a beautiful woman with a royal bearing. When a settler tries to fight back, he is gunned down in front of his pregnant wife.

 While the claim only involves a few hundred acres of the Ponderosa, the Cartwrights become involved, for the people to be evicted are their neighbors. They pursue their counterclaims through legal means until the other side resorts to force. As would be expected, there is a sudden twist in the plot whereby there are questions as to the claimant’s legitimacy. The ending is quite unexpected.

 What is most interesting about this episode is that it involves the historical fact that the American Southwest was once Spanish territory ruled by the King of Spain before it was part of Mexico. The timeframe of the Bonanza series is right after the American Civil war, only twenty years after Mexico ceded the territory to the United States and after centuries of Spanish claims to the land.

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