'Hatfields & McCoys' Finale Promises Peace That Didn't Happen Until 2003

The History Channel's mini-series based upon the real-life feud between two families, the "Hatfields & McCoys," is set to conclude tonight, with both families struggling to make peace with one another. The series has received high praise for its portrayal of the families and the devastation that came from a deep-seeded hatred.

Though tonight's episode centers on the idea of peace, it wasn't until 2003 that the families buried the hatchet once and for all.

"I do not wish to keep the old feud alive," the head of the Hatfield house proclaims. "The war spirit in me has evaded, and I sincerely rejoice at the prospect of peace."

As both families cope with the loss of loved ones, it is clear that a new energy has settled between them and there is hope for reconciliation. The series, however, focused on the intensity of the feud, which claimed more than one dozen members of both families.

"We wanted to show how a series of incidents swept everybody up in this tornado of ego, jealousy, bitterness and violence," Leslie Greif, one of the executive producers, told the LA Times. "Never forgiving, never forgetting took over, and pretty soon they were in the middle of a war and didn't even know how they got there."

The struggle between the two families caught national attention and government involvement, with the militias of Kentucky and West Virginia being called in to help the families stop fighting. It wasn't until 2000 when the families officially declared a truce, putting the past behind them, at a ceremony attended by over 500 members of both families.

"It's a big, pre-sold headline that everybody knows but nobody knows," History Channel president Nancy Dubuc told the Times. "It's part of American pop culture, but very few people could tell you the true story of these families."

The series, which featured such stars as Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger, Mare Winningham and Jena Malone, received high praise for its portrayal of life in Appalachia. The New York Post rated it four out of five stars, and the History Channel has set a new record for viewing, with 13.9 million viewers for the premiere episodes, and 17 million for the series' repeats.

Costner, who also worked behind-the-scenes on the series, told reporters, "I tried to be an emotional detective. While I thought about the political and economic forces at play-plus the potent combination of alcohol, guns and misery-wanted to find the humanity in these tough, hardened people."