31 December 2004 | pj-santucci
Re-discovering the fabulous life of John Augustus Sutter thanks to a thrilling TV-series with great French-speaking players
Fortune was an excellent TV series. It told the true (yet romantic) story of a Swiss-German adventurer, John Augustus Sutter, who went to America in 1834, traded for some time on the Santa Fe trail, and then traveled all along the Oregon trail from Missouri to Oregon. After short stays in Honolulu and Sitka (Alaska), he finally reached the Bay of San Francisco in July 1839. He established the first settlement in the Sacramento Valley, and his establishment ("New Helvetia") hosted several waves of immigrants (mainly U.S. but also many other nationalities) during the 1840's. The discovery of gold in January 1848 could have been a great boon for Sutter; instead, it marked the beginning of his trials - squatters stole his properties and cattle, and he died almost a poor man in Washington, D.C., in June 1880. The TV series was played by famous French-speaking actors of the 1960's. It was broadcast on the French and Swiss televisions in 1969 and again in the early 1970's. It is quite strange that nobody has yet found it relevant and most likely profitable to edit the series on DVD. This would be not only a tribute to the great actors (some are still active on the European scene), it would also be a unique opportunity to make better known to young TV watchers today the fabulous story of John Sutter (immortalised by a famous novel by Blaise Cendrars, "Gold") and his embodiment of some fascinating episodes of U.S. history during the 19th century.